Pilgrimage to Kildare: Chapter VI, Farewells With Friends

May 20, 2022

 The next morning was my last in Kildare and I thought to light a candle in thanks for all those who had helped me on my journey, so off I went to the local parish. Unfortunately mass had just started, so then I tried the Carmalites but mass had started there too! Alas, I went back to the flat to collect my bags and see about my coach departure to Dublin. On my way I saw a nun who I recognised from the services at the parish church. She stopped to chat and invited me back to the convent for a quick cup of tea and breakfast. When we got there she showed me to an altar room and it was there I got to light my final candle of prayer and thanks.
I met my pall Gerry in Dublin for a few hours before heading onwards to Dundalk to see Betty and her family. We visited another St Brigids shrine and holy place and enjoyed a peaceful evening in the Irish hills. Betty is so overwhelmingly kind and generous and she filled my bag with even more prayer cards, another blessed rosary from Medjugori, a pin badge of St Brigids Cross and so much love.

The next day I booked my ferry back to Birkenhead. I waved goodbye to Betty and boarded the train to Belfast with my St Brigids crosses safely in hand so they wouldn’t get damaged. When I got to Belfast, the Covid restrictions on indoor dining were finally lifted, so I celebrated with a vegan roll from Costa. After deliberating whether to walk to the ferry or take a bus, I opted to walk since the evening was so nice. Time wore on and now the once crowded streets of Belfast were becoming more and more desolate and industrial. As I was waiting at a crossing, a lady called Corrina came over to see if I needed a lift anywhere. Since ones backpack seems only to get heavier with time, I greatly accepted and jumped into the jeep. I arrived at the ferry in good time as boarding hadn’t yet started, so I de-bagged, sat down and breathed a sigh of relief. And then disaster struck! I had left my precious crosses in her car!!!!!
A random stranger who had sped off never to be seen again! As I went into full panic mode many things crossed my mind. Could I board the ferry with this great loss, having failed at my mission? "No", even if it meant I would have to go straight back to Kildare and make the cross again, I would. I remembered that Corrina had said that she was waiting outside a bakery for her partner to finish some renovations work, so the only thing I could do was to go back to where I was picked up and see if he would still be there. I ran out of the terminal, not fancying my chances on foot I tried to hitch hike back to the main road. Mad panic was setting in and at first I ran off in the wrong direction wasting about 15 minutes of precious time. I righted myself at last, but I soon found out the ferry terminal was not the friendly sort of place I had experienced on my travels and no one would stop. I had 2 choices, continue hitching along the main road and risk no one stopping or to try running back to the bakery through the deserted docklands. I started to run.      
As I was running, I was trying to work out on my phone the spot where I got picked up. But I couldn’t think straight and ended up running right past it, getting even more lost, stressed and confused. After recognising a church (of course), I realised I had overshot and was able to finally put myself right and there I saw the bakery…  and inside was Julian the baker.
He sped me home to a rather surprised looking Corrina, and in her car I was reunited with the precious crosses. Julian also drove me back to the ferry terminal where I found out his grandfather was very devoted to St Brigid and Julian had gone to a St Brigids Primary school. A perfect ending to my time in Ireland.
I boarded the ferry, got to sit in my favourite seat and had a nice cup of tea before falling asleep.
I delivered the crosses to Robin at St Brides church, Fleet Street the next day. Just before I handed them over, I lit a candle in the church as a symbolic ‘bringing the light back’ ceremony to complete the journey. The crosses were very greatly received.   

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