|View across the Shannon to the castle, Limerick.|
Friday, 27 June 2014
At 8am on Thursday 30th May, dedicated to St Joan of Arc, I attended Mass at Waterford’s Dominican Priory, also named St Saviour’s – the third such House of God, in the hands of the same order and with exactly the same dedication, that I’d visited in Eire. I then wrote a few more postcards; found the lyrics to the Beatles’ Let it Be in a cyber café, in order to send them to Abraham in Belfast, and paid visits to a Franciscan church and the cathedral. Before taking a bus to Wexford (which is some way short of Rosslare, but it meant a saving of 8 euros, and I assumed it would be possible to hitch the difference), I chatted briefly about Africa to a Sudanese gentleman as I bought some date-filled biscuits from his shop, and took the opportunity to practise my Russian with a Russian-Latvian running the news kiosk at the station. He stated his view that the Cold War had never in fact gone away; it certainly seemed to be in full swing at that time, with each side backing its proxies in Syria. In return for the free cup of coffee he gave me, I gave him a small laminated Greek Orthodox icon of the Crucifixion. Pitching up in Wexford, in yet more delightful sunshine I made my way to the town’s southern outskirts. When I started hitching, just as the lack of people stopping to pick me up began to get worrying, a lorry pulled over whose Irish driver took me to a major roundabout. Very soon after being dropped there I was picked up by Laszlo, another lorry driver, a Hungarian who had lived in Ireland for 8 years, though his English was still quite faltering. We discussed Mongolia, the land from which the Magyars are thought to have originated, St Stephen of Hungary and his daughter St Margaret of Scotland, the Hungarian stations of the cross in Fatima, Portugal, and last but not least the captain of the Magical Magyar football team of the 1950s, Ferenc Puskás, who inspired Hungary to their famous 6:3 and 7:1 wins over England at Wembley and Budapest in 1953 and 1954 respectively. Laszlo turned out with millions of his compatriots to mark the occasion of the great striker’s state funeral in 2006; he is buried underneath the dome of St Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest. I had but one solitary word of Hungarian that I could use as Laszlo and I parted company; kursunum – ‘thank you’.
Dropped at the ferry terminal with over an hour to spare, I wrote another couple of postcards, updated my diary, and then boarded a vessel which would shortly set sail for Normandy.