Two young German children, an eight-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy, were caught on the side of a highway near their hometown, attempting to run away.
Where were they headed?
The story, which captured the imagination of the German press after it broke last weekend, was picked up yesterday by the Irish Times.
The girl and boy are from Ansbach, Frankonia in Northern Bavaria. They left their home on Friday afternoon, with a backpack stocked with the staples – food, a flashlight, an alarm clock and a book. They walked right on out of their hometown and made their way to the A6 highway, where they planned to hitch a ride.
“They wanted to go to the Autobahn because that’s where the trucks travel to Ireland,” said a police spokesman. The children had a journey of over 1,000 miles ahead of them.
Their parents quickly noticed their children missing and contacted police, who began a search. Around 7:30 pm, the girl and boy were noticed by passing drivers, who called the police. A patrol car zoomed out to retrieve them. They had traveled a little over three miles.
While neither the police nor the children’s parents have commented on why the two youngsters chose Ireland as their destination, a few ideas have been offered.
As the Irish Times noted, many Germans fondly call Ireland the “Grüne Insel” or “green isle.” A love of Ireland was instilled in the cultural imagination through Heinrich Böll, who published his Irish Journal after first falling for Ireland on a trip there in the 1950s.
At a more local level, one of the patron saints of the region is Saint Cillian, an Irish monk from Cavan who traveled to the area in 689 AD. He was beheaded for saying that the Duke of Würzburg was going against God’s ways by wedding his brother’s widow. His head, as well as those of his two Irish companions, are still on display at a cathedral in Würzburg.