This was the 1970s when I was fresh out of an American college, bumming around Europe on almost no money. But it was the Ireland of my ancestors and they had no money either, so we were all in this together. (Photo: Irish countryside, 26 Sept 2009/Cathal McNaughton)
A little too much so, I discovered shortly after getting into the front passenger seat when the priest — and he was wearing his clerical collar, so there could be no doubt — put his hand on my knee.
Suddenly, if I’d been headed to Galway, which I think I was, I decided getting off at the next little village was just grand, and so slipped out of the only awkward experience I’d had hitching around a half dozen European countries.
This was years before the world — but especially Ireland — learned all too well that the Catholic clergy of Ireland had a penchant for preying on young men, and especially young boys much younger than I was at the time, and because they were so young, much less able to defend themselves — in fact, totally defenseless.