Never un­der­sti­mate the good­ness in peo­ple

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - OPINION - Fr Michael Com­mane

ON Thurs­day Au­gust 15, I set off on my mo­tor­bike from Dublin, des­ti­na­tion West Kerry. I’m ex­cited. Weather fore­cast is not bad, and no rain due. It’s my first time on the three-lane Kil­dare mo­tor­way and it makes a big dif­fer­ence. Be­fore Port­laoise I leave the mo­tor­way as I want to am­ble along quiet roads and also plan to call to the Cis­ter­cian Abbey in Ro­screa. I’m shocked at the death of ru­ral Ire­land, empty vil­lages and towns. Why are we al­low­ing this to hap­pen?

As a child I had of­ten been at the Cis­ter­cian Abbey out­side Ro­screa. It’s a stun­ning set­ting, large park­lands, a church, monastery and school. My ma­ter­nal grand­par­ents mar­ried in the abbey church and my fa­ther was at school there.

Today there are nine Cis­ter­cians in the abbey, rang­ing in age from 52 to 92. A no­tice in the church say­ing there is Mass on Sun­days and Holy Days at 12.30. Alas no 12.30 Mass today, the feast of the As­sump­tion. What at all can its fu­ture be? A mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion.

Off and away on the bike, tak­ing quiet roads to Dunker­rin and then back on to the mo­tor­way. I re­lax on the seat, give the bike throt­tle and slowly but surely I no­tice the bike is not re­spond­ing. No mat­ter how high the revs go the bike is slow­ing down. I’m now down to 40 km/h. Noth­ing else to do than to pull over on to the hard shoul­der and turn on the flash­ers. I crawl on at less than 25 km/h and then de­cide to stop. It’s not a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence to be stopped on the side of a mo­tor­way nurs­ing a clapped-out mo­tor­bike.

I’m in the AA, which is a source of re­lief. I’m anx­ious, stand­ing on the side of the mo­tor­way. Just as I’m won­der­ing what to do a lorry pulls up. I go up to the cab. The driver asks me if I’m in trou­ble and I ex­plain my plight. He drives a mo­tor­bike and knows about bikes. He gives the bike a quick check and thinks I have a clutch prob­lem. I ex­plain to him that I can phone the AA. While still check­ing out the bike he says that his truck is loaded with pal­lets of card­board but that he might be able to load the bike. I’m gob­s­macked by his

of­fer. He opens the back of the truck, spends ap­prox­i­mately 10 to 15 min­utes re­ar­rang­ing the pal­lets. He low­ers the ramp. We wheel the bike onto the ramp. It’s my first time on such a ramp. I’m scared of fall­ing off. He presses the but­ton to lift the ramp. He closes the truck doors, raises the ramp and off we drive.

I in­tro­duce my­self and he does like­wise.

We spend the next hour in con­ver­sa­tion. He tells me that he lost a young child to menin­gi­tis. As a re­sult of his ex­pe­ri­ence he set up an or­gan­i­sa­tion which fa­cil­i­tates the speedy trans­fer of blood to hos­pi­tals us­ing mo­tor­bikes.

Later telling my story to a Bus Éire­ann driver in Lim­er­ick, he re­marks that truck driv­ers are renowned for their kind­ness to fel­low-driv­ers in trou­ble on the road. It was worth the mo­tor­bike break­down to meet this man.

It’s at our peril that we un­der­es­ti­mate the good­ness of peo­ple. It’s so easy to com­plain and crit­i­cise. It can be lazy too, es­pe­cially when we so of­ten are sur­rounded by good­ness and kind­ness.

It’s been a great les­son for me.

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