July 17th Hitching For Hope blog. Ruairí’s Hitching For Hope national listening tour is a one month project to hear, document and promote the visions and visions of the people of Ireland in advance of speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties on July 29th & 30th . More info
Blogging from the road, please excuse errors and sound quality issues etc.). Press the orange play icon on sound files to hear audio.
I got up early and caught up on some online work and did a radio interview with Shannonside Northern Sound radio before the lads gave me a lift down through some beautiful Wicklow countryside and into Gorey, Co. Wexford. I did a quick interview with Paul before meeting up with Colm Mac Con Iomaire who brought me over to his house in rural Wexford for some lunch and chats.
I had met Colm briefly a couple of years ago when I was involved with the Dalai Lama’s visit to Ireland. Colm is a founding member of the bands Kila, The Frames and The Swell Season. He also has a solo career and makes magic music. Check out his album ‘The Hare’s Corner’. Sublime stuff.
Colm had flown home from France especially to play with Kila at the POSSIBILITIES summit where the Dalai Lama was speaking. He struck me as a deep thinking kind of guy and we somehow stayed in touch and I ended up meeting him and seeing him play with the Frames in Australia earlier this year.
At Colm’s house we chatted about his move to rural Wexford from Dublin to get a good quality of life for his family. He talked about the life of a musician, how it has been a struggle at times but ultimately how he is living his dreams. We reflected how so much of that has to do with risk, or perceived risk, and how it’s necessary to make the leap towards whatever you dream of doing and to do so without fear. As Colm reminded me, Billy Hicks had once said ‘we have two choices. Love and fear’. I think he was right.
So much of our lives are lived in fear, fear around our bodies, our image, our reputations, our work, our love lives and especially around money. It is mostly about a fear for the future. About what MIGHT happen but may never happen.
Fear is often cultivated by advertisers, governments and corporations as once you have people afraid, then it’s easier to lead them down a certain path. If however you are invested in love then everything changes. You get your strength from within and you aren’t as susceptible to being manipulated by others. Love isn’t always an easy path, but it is more rewarding and opens up doors to whole new ways of looking and living. It is something I’m still trying to practice, as I’m as much a product of the fear machine as anyone is.
Talking to artists and musicians can be a good tonic. They look at the world differently. In ancient Ireland the poet and the artist were revered. No harm to business people and economists but it really is time to return to these people for counsel. They are dreamers and visionaries. They can see things that others think impossible. It is no accident that the 1916 leaders were poets. It is a candle in the darkness that our President is a poet. Power to the poets!
After a lovely lunch, great chats and a few tunes Colm dropped me down the road where I was picked up within minutes by Justin and his son. They are Dubliners living in Meath and were on route to Kilmuckridge to their mobile home. Apparently Kilmuckridge is a mini Dublin with a huge tradition of mobile homes. Justin was singing its praises so much that when I got out of the car I ended up getting back in, as I just had to see what it was all about. After a bit of explaining to his wife and family (‘who’s the hitchhiker’) I had a beer with them and then went for a swim. Turns out the grandmother had heard me on the RTE Mooney show the week before.
Chatting to them all and seeing the children roam around freely I could see why people opt for this semi outdoors life for their summers, regardless of the weather. No doubt that the 28 degrees heat definitely gave it a special shine.
After an hour or two Justin dropped me back to the main road. I had a bit of a wait before a local woman picked me up telling me that she doesn’t really pick up hitchers but thought of her son when she spotted me. Her son is living in Australia and we got chatting about the challenges of parents’ kids being abroad. She said she misses him a lot. It must be incredibly difficult for mothers with kids abroad. I spent several years abroad myself, but never really thought about it from my mother’s perspective. It is probably one of the saddest aspects of emigration and needs to get more attention.
I had to wait about half an hour before my next lift came. During the wait I was standing in the middle of nowhere facing a monument commemorating the 1798 rebellion and local people who died in it. It seems to be that during that time of European revolution, we had a chance to really emerge as a great nation, one that valued people before wealth. I remember reading how at the same time the Catholic church conspired with the English government to set-up Maynooth as Europe’s largest seminary at the time, giving the church the minds and men of the nation and a way for the English to control any revolutionary thinking.
My next lift was a fairly large topless hairy entrepreneurial chef in a four wheel drive. He was full of positive upbeat chat about the various enterprises that he is involved with. There is no doubt that entrepreneurial spirits such as his should be encouraged and supported. Where some see recession, guys like this see opportunity and won’t be held back. More power to them I say.
In Wexford I got some dodgy fast food (never a good idea I think..) and caught up on some online work in a hotel lobby. At 10.30am Caroline, a school teacher, friend of my friend Diarmuid Lyng, picked me up and drove me out to her beautiful restored farmhouse home 20 minutes into the country in Baldwinstown.
Over a couple of lovely whiskeys I stayed up until 1am chatting about Caroline’s views on the education system, on Irish language, music and culture (she teaches in a Gaelscoil/Irish language school), and her love for Irish history – and Damien Dempsey! She reckons Damo is God and definitely seems to be one of his biggest fans having followed him to gigs around the country and brought her daughters to see him.
She’s also a big GAA fan and her grandfather won an all Ireland medal for Wexford in 1916. We chatted about her experience in campaigns against apartheid in in the 80s, her involvement in the divorce action group, and her extensive work in meeting and documenting the voices of older Irish people who fought for justice. This included Bob Doyle who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. This was a mighty Irish woman, no doubt about it.
We don’t hear enough from people like Caroline. Powerful Irish women not afraid to speak their minds. There aren’t enough women in business or politics and many of those that are often end up playing the game and buying into the male dominated world of control, conformity, ego and spin. Ireland would be a better place if the wild women of Ireland could have their say.
Once again tiredness called me to bed and off I went, off to dream for Ireland and ready for a new day of hitching for hope tomorrow.
Thanks for all your support.
Places I have visited so far
Galway City, Spiddal, Moycullen, Oughterard, Cleggan, Inishbofin, Clifden, Mam Cross, Leenane, Westport, Croagh Patrick, Newport, Achill Island, Rossport, Belmullet, Mullet peninsula, Ballina, Sligo, Bundoran, Donegal Town, Mountcharles, St. John’s Pt., Letterkenny, Derry, Leixslip, Dublin, Aughrim Co. Wicklow, Gorey, Kilmuckridge, Wexford Town, Baldwinstown, Kilmore Quay, Hook Head, Ballyhack, Passage East, Dunmore East, Cork City. (Updated July 21st).
Thanks to Galway Bay FM, iRadio, the Galway Independent, Mid West Radio, Ocean FM, Tipp FM, WorldIrish.com, Highland Radio, BBC Radio Foyle x 3, the Derry Journal, DonegalDaily.com, RTE Radio One Mooney Show, the Irish Times, theJournal.ie, Newstalk (Breakfast show), Today FM (KC show), TV3 Morning Show, 98FM late night talk, Shannonside Northern South, Flirt FM, South East Radio, The Cork Independent, Cork Evening Echo, The Sunday Times.
Links to media coverage