AN ABBEYFEALE native who hitch hiked his way across Europe for Euro 2012 is to publish a diary of his adventures.
Pat Fitzgerald, the self-titled ‘Man with No Plan’, set off from Cork in June with nothing but a tricolour, his right thumb and an insistence that he would make it Poznan in time for Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign.
Pat’s quest was followed on a daily basis by Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy Show, and now that he has made it back home in one piece he has decided to publish a diary of his adventures, with all proceeds from the book going to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
Pat told the Limerick Leader that his time in Poland was “the greatest two weeks of my life”, and he has lifetime’s worth of yarns and near-misses that he wants to share.
“How I got the idea was, when I was leaving, my girlfriend gave me a notebook and told me to write down everyone you get a lift with. That way, if I disappear they might find the notebook and have a chance of finding me!
“But as I went I got into the habit of writing down a few things from time to time, about the places I’d been to and that kind of thing.”
Pat was in Dublin last week to catch up with Ray D’Arcy and Irish soccer legend Johnny Giles, and the radio presenter has now promised to help Pat find a publisher for his diary.
Pat has decided to donate all proceeds from the book to the Alzheimer society as his mother, Kitty, died from the disease. A few years ago, Pat and a host of Fitzgerald family members raised €32,000 for the charity with a sports event in Abbeyfeale.
Pat said that as disappointing as Ireland’s performances on the pitch in Poland may have been, the Irish fans helped the country feel good about itself again.
“The highlight for me had to be standing in the stadium after we’d lost to Spain. That’s tough for me to say, because I’m a sportsman and you want to win. But there haven’t been many moments over the past few years when you could be truly proud to be an Irishman.
“You don’t even have to look at the videos, look at the comments people have left on YouTube. Someone from every country in the world has praised us. I think that, outside the football, something big happened over in Poland. I think we were elevated as a country a bit.”
Pat’s journey to and from Poznan has given him enough anecdotes to last a lifetime. He made his way to the tournament hitch hiking from Cork to Rosslare, before heading from Fishguard to Cardiff, where he was roasted alive with sunburn after five hours waiting for a lift. He then managed to make it to London, Dover and on to and Calais.
Pat then made his way across France, Belgium, Holland and Germany in the company of overweight Polish truck drivers, before finally arriving in Poznan in a 1999 Nissan Almera driven by two lads from Leitrim.
He said that the journey home was slightly less haphazard, though no less exciting.
“I got home with two lads from Inchicore, Des and Noel Downey. I hopped into a car with them the morning after the Spain match, and I tell you, one of them was 67-years-old and he drove for 14 hours solid to make the ferry in Calais. I think we stopped once for a cup of tea. It was incredible. The other brother’s tactic was to keep arguing with him to keep him awake.”
After making it to Chester, where one of the brothers lives. He then made the short train journey to Holyhead, where he caught a ferry to Dublin, where he was picked up by his girlfriend.
Pat detailed his adventures on a dedicated ‘man with no plan’ Facebook page and a Twitter account, @manwithnoplan12.