This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column
On the Monday after the All-Ireland hurling final I travelled by rail from Dublin to Banteer.
I consider myself something of a train anorak so was expecting the 11.00 Heuston Cork service to be a quiet train. Make my way up to the front coach at 10.50. Amazed. What is normally the 'semi-empty' coach was crowded. I was taken aback. What was this about?
There were still two free seats together, where I parked myself. Window seat. Within a minute a young woman is sitting down beside me. Of course it's selfish to expect to have two seats to yourself but it's a nicer way to travel.
Just as she sat down beside me the smell of drink hit me. Is there anything worse than that smell of stale drink?
Sitting on the train I felt one could get drunk on the fumes and there was enough alcohol to fuel the locomotive.
The train was filled to capacity with Tipperary supporters heading home after a weekend of revellery.
I thought I was going to be on a nice quiet train. Anything but.
The young woman beside me, decked out with her phone, purse and bottled water had less than four hours sleep but would be back at work in the early afternoon. That's what young people do.
We joked about the 'evils of drink' She assured me that she would not be in Semple Stadium or anywhere near Thulres later that day for the homecoming of the victorious hurlers. "I can't wait till 6pm when I finish work and head straight home to bed," she smiled.
Her two friends, also on the train with her, are heading back to college. Tuesday was their first day back so they were planning to go to the celebrations in Thurles later that day. But there would be no drink as both of them had lectures at 09.00 on the Tuesday.
The four men sitting in front of us seemed to have been experts on hurling. I could overhear them referring to on of Sunday's players as a 'donkey' and then all praise for someone else. I wonder who the 'donkey' was?
"My young lad plays for the under-12s in XXXXX," I could hear one of them say. The same man agreed that he was in a 'terrible condition'. I'm not too sure when he was afflicted with such a 'condition'. But all four of them had nothing but praise for the Tipperary manager, Michael Ryan.
By the time the train reached Templemore my passenger companion had changed her mind. Yes, she would go to Thurles later that day but promised me she would not be drinking.
On Saturday night she and her friend hailed a rickshaw. It was only to cost €4 but they got lost, mis-read their Google maps and ended up paying €20 each. So the rick-shaw man ended up with €40 in his pocket.
And just as the train pulled out of Thurles my friend was thinking she might call in sick.
It was a 'different' sort of train journey. But it was great fun. And what really struck me was the innate good nature of the people sitting near me. They were all good fun, nice people. Behind all the codology there was a lovely innocence about them. No big ideas about changing the world or high-faluten words about anyting.
But I was also conscious of the presence of God on that train.
Just as the train neared Limerick Junction my train companion had definitively decided she'd be back at work in the afternoon.
That's dedication. Great fun too.