Tric Kearney: Not being a person of religion, I listened and smiled, shaking my head at the madness of believing in a saint of lost things who is articularly helpful if you offer him money

I’VE spent a lifetime looking for things: my keys, my phone, my bank cards. In our early years, yer man’s blood pressure soared when he’d hear me confessing to losing my Visa card and he’d immediately launch a frantic search, insisting I cancel it if it wasn’t found within the hour.

Nowadays he’s a little more relaxed, knowing it’s probably in a jeans pocket, down the back of the couch or in the washing machine.

However, recently I lost my driving licence, closely followed by my passport. That would be worrying at any time, but our children had bought us a trip to the United States for Christmas and we were due to go in a few weeks. Feeling sick, I searched all the usual places, followed by the unusual, and finally, the totally ridiculous, but there was no sign of it. I sat on my bed littered with documents and junk I’d strewn about, convinced we’d miss our trip by the time I got a replacement. It was time to tell the family.

It didn’t go down well although yer man remained calm.

“Yerrah, it’ll turn up,” was his helpful advice.

Three days later it had failed to make an appearance, and I’d had enough of everyone’s ridiculous line of questioning. “Where did you have it last,” being the most common.

Finally, one and all suggested St Anthony.

“Honestly,” said a friend, “I said a quick prayer, promised him a fiver and the next minute I found my ring.”

Not being a person of religion, I listened and smiled, shaking my head at the madness of believing in a saint of lost things who is particularly helpful if you offer him money. A week into my search and my panic was real. My passport was no more and the clock to departure was ticking. Time to report it was missing to the gardaí. But, despite my exhaustive searches a part of me couldn’t accept it was gone.

I looked at the clock. It was almost midday. What about St Anthony? Would he listen to a non-believer? If he exists might he look harder if I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse?

“St Anthony,” I said aloud, “I’ll give you €30 if you find my passport in the next hour.”

That seemed a generous amount and cheap at half the price compared to replacing it.

I couldn’t but smile as I walked upstairs to begin the motherly task of cleaning the bathroom. What madness desperation can bring. At the top of the stairs I sighed at the untidy pile of arts and crafts belonging to my teacher daughter. A white plastic bag sitting at the top of the pile caught my eye. I’d not noticed it before and curiosity got the better of me.

Kicking my way through the clutter I opened it. Inside were various items I’d taken from my car in a mad tidy up before my NCT a few weeks previously. Nestling among them was my passport. My heart soared.

I raced down stairs, took a photo of it, and posted it to the family WhatsApp.

“Looks who’s going to America.”

“Where did you find it?” was the instant reply. When I told them they texted back,

“What made you look there?”

What indeed, I wondered. Surely not St Anthony? Is he really the saint of lost things, and to whom do I hand over my €30?

Since word has got out about how well connected I am I’ve been inundated by friends requesting I put in a good word for them in finding their lost goods.

I’m also seriously regretting not including my driving licence in my request, but maybe, if I ask him he’ll do that for a tenner and some good publicity?

I’ll keep you posted.

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