The planes arrive and with much effort we are loaded and ready for take off. The journey home is often quiet: the flight officer welcomes us on board, one of the chaplains leads us in a prayer and might even bless the last souvenir that was bought in a hurry; some grab a little sleep, others listen to walkmans. All realise that the bonding that has taken place during the past few weeks will soon be challenged by departures at Dublin or Cork, Belfast, Shannon or Knock Airports.
As the words of the flight attendant "Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has switched on the seat belt sign. We have begun our descent..... " is heard some lone pilgrim strikes up the words of Rise and Shine. Here we are on a jumbo jet singing about Noah's ark! The staff look on incredulously as we wave and sign, sign and clap our way through the flood of four thousand years ago. What difference! And then we are back on Irish soil: the singing has kept our mind off the descent and no one noticed the wheels touch the ground. A thunderous applause erupts as we are welcomed back to Ireland.