The Vagabond’s Penance by Lily Murphy

Window Shopping Montmartre

Window Shopping Montmartre

Photo by John P Brady


‘The Vagabond’s Penance’ by Lily Murphy


It was a day for the ducks as the rain hit the streets of Cork city with such a hardness that it almost cracked the pavements. A gaggle of old women who were weighed down with their shopping bags huddled in the foyer of St. Francis church. There they waited for the rain to ease or even for a miracle to occur and the rain would stop altogether. A middle aged man trudged his way up the steps of the red brick Byzantine styled church and proceeded to shuffle his way into the foyer. He squirmed his drenched structure past the pensioners who refused to step aside for the man who looked rather worse for wear.

The man hauled open one of the big wooden doors of the church and disappeared inside. The old women all wrapped up in their scarves commented on the rather rough appearance of the man. They discussed his street beaten attire and they all agreed that the man was not only soaked from the rain but that he was also clearly soaked from booze and they all waited in anticipation for the priest to throw the vagabond out of the church.

The vagabond paced up the middle of the aisle with a distraught look painted across his weather beaten face. A priest was busy tending to some candles at the far side of the spacious church but the urgency etched on the unshaven face of the vagabond alerted the holy man. The stranger from the street stood at the top of the aisle just at the foot of the alter and looked around. He threw a quick glance to the right, then a quick glance to the left and quick indeed were his glances as he seemed like a fellow who had no time for simple browsing. He then took himself in the direction of the priest who had his eyes firmly fixed on the desperate looking man.

The priest thought that this stranger wanted him for something urgent as he was making his way towards him in a great speed. The priest was left disappointed as the habitant of some ally way or doorway brushed past him and went directly into the confession box.

The priest followed the vagabond with as much speed that he could muster from his feeble old legs. He prepared his ears for a desperate confession from a desperate looking man. Perhaps he had a robbery to confess or maybe even a murder, something drastic the priest thought to himself. Just as he placed his hand on the door knob of the confession box to open his side and take whatever weight off the strangers shoulders, he suddenly reappeared from the other side with his face lit with relief.

‘Is there anything you want?’ the perplexed priest asked the vagabond who simply smiled back, ‘ah sure all I wanted was the toilet…….and I found it. It is free now if you want to use it.’ The vagabond thumbed back to the confession box behind him before he sauntered back out into the street. The old priest wore an expression of horror while dreading the thought of what could be waiting for him in the confession box.


Did you like the story? Opinions? Praise? Please leave a comment below

Lily Murphy


Lily Murphy is 26 years old and from Cork city, Ireland. She is a history graduate from UCC but these days she can be found at the race track backing horses that never win!


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One Response to The Vagabond’s Penance by Lily Murphy

  1. garreth keating

    i enjoyed your story and a great tip future necessities. Thank you for sharing

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