We made it! I arrived at Bosham Quay yesterday afternoon on schedule, accompanied by a great gang of about 30 assorted family, friends and supporters. It was a wonderful moment. A crowd of people had gathered to welcome us, and Dicul and his Irish monks were there in their ‘curragh’ , having some difficulty controlling their sail in a Force 6 breeze. It was very exciting to have got there at last. I made a short speech about the ride and the 7th century Irish connection with Bosham, and presented a Brigit’s Cross, made of rushes from Brigit’s Garden, to Rev. Martin Lane. He is the new vicar of Bosham and very keen to make the Irish heritage of the area better known. I also threw a second cross into the harbour in memory of the Irish monks who landed on these shores. St Cuthman (otherwise known as Val) then appeared with his old mother in the wheelbarrow, to much applause. We then passed around Irish whiskey, which turned out to be very welcome in the chilly wind, and James from the Chichester Harbour Trust and volunteers shook buckets for the Trust.
Val, Richard, James and Pat did a great job organising the welcoming party on the Quay – thanks everyone!
Family and some friends then went on to Cobnor for celebratory bubbly, and we then went to the site on the footpath where we intend to make the new seat for St Cuthman. Lay reader Colin Ottman did a lovely blessing, including a very nice St Brigit prayer. The seat will be a simple stone bench on a base with three arrows carved into it – one pointing to the site of Dicul’s monastery just across the creek at Bosham, the second to Steyning where Cuthman founded his church, and the third to the West of Ireland where the monks probably came from. The seat will be a great way of telling the story of the Irish connection to local people.
The home-coming was great, but the cycle ride to get there was somewhat epic. It started well, when the minibus of family and friends turned up in Steyning, towing a big cycle carrier with all the bikes. It was so heart-warming to see everyone. We set off on the steep climb up the South Downs in drizzle, and after about half an hour it started to pour. It was driving, horizontal rain familiar from the West of Ireland and it made the rough chalk track very difficult and slippery, especially on the steep sections. Then people started getting punctures from the flints, the group got split up and kids started to get cold waiting for others, so we left the Downland track early and headed along the roads instead. Everyone was soaked to the skin. We met some other supporters in East Lavant village for the last few miles, and waited for Dee, Colin and Dinah who had been delayed by more punctures – and finally managed to head to the Quay together, except for Phil who had given up on a faulty bike and caught the train home. Luckily the sun came out and by the time we reached Bosham we were beginning to dry off. All in all, quite an adventure!
More photos of our arrival coming here soon…