July 15th 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.
This morning I fell out of bed and ran to get the bus into town in time for an early morning Newstalk radio interview. I was really chasing my tail. In the Newstalk waiting area I looked around at all the well dressed bright young things and observed the fast and furious pace of modern office life. I was glad to be out of it, at least for now.
I got chatting to a Canadian man who was going to be going on air after me. He moved to Ireland over 10 years ago because of the sense of fun and community that we had. He said he had lost some of that but that it is on its way back. I know it’s no use having craic and fun with no jobs but it is good to hear that there is a sense of returning to who we really are.
The Canadian’s whole thing is improv comedy and theatre. He said a lot of stressed business people are turning to improv workshops to help them shake off stress, have fun, meet new people and get a sense of being in the moment, outside of the day to day business world.
I can see why this works. Hitching is a bit like that. It forces you to be in the moment. To accept you don’t know when you’ll get picked up, who you’ll meet, where the next adventure might lead to. It can be frustrating if you don’t let go but magnificent when you do. I think too much of life is about control and realistically we can’t control everything so I can see why improvisation can teach us a lot.
The Newstalk interview was short and sweet and I went and got some breakfast before doing a few vox pops on the street. The main difference I noticed between Dublin and elsewhere was the pace of life. Everyone seemed busy, on their phones, or in a hurry. Well, not everyone but the tempo is much faster. It is therefore harder to stop people on the street and in some cases they probably think I am a charity collector or somebody else looking for their money or their souls.
In the end I did get chatting to several people and picked up a diverse range of views from students, lecturers, homeless people, an unemployed man, a historian and a tourist. I was particularly taken by the young guy who was using his couple of hours off to enjoy life, check out some museums and generally just relax. It can be a much better use of time than hanging on Facebook or worrying about the future. Sometimes you just have to enjoy what you have. Glass half full and all of that.
Down in Temple Bar I interviewed a young poet who was selling his poetry book whilst standing proudly with no shoes on. He said that there’s too much control in society and that wearing shoes in scorching weather is an example of how we’re conditioned to act and think in certain ways despite feeling uncomfortable. I’ve always enjoyed the no shoes culture when in Australia but trying to pull it off in Ireland is a mission, especially since we don’t get much sunshine. He had a point though. My feet were sweating. Note to self – find sandals and wear them regardless of naff factor.
Over at the Amnesty building I interviewed John on reception. I know him from when I was based there a couple of years ago in the relocated SpunOut.ie offices. Upstairs I popped into my fiancée Susan who herself was busy setting up an office as part of her work for the great new youth organisation, the Soar Foundation. We had a quick chat and I ran upstairs to interview a couple of the SpunOut.ie team.
It was a strange experience popping into the organisation I founded and used to run (for 8 years). Nearly all new people, some I’ve never met, and a real sense of hard work and dedication. I have no idea what they are doing these days but it was great to see the organisation in full swing during what is a really difficult time for young people in Ireland.
I rushed off again, this time to do a phone interview with KC on Today FM. The interview went well, it was quite light-hearted but I somehow found myself chatting about the philosophy of the mythologist Joseph Campbell in terms of ‘following your bliss’. This was something that has come up a few times on this trip. I definitely didn’t expect to be chatting about it on popular radio in the middle of the day but hopefully that is a sign of changing times. I think sometimes radio shows don’t give people enough credit. They dumb it down and play the same old crappy music and assume people don’t want to go a bit deeper with issues.
Then again media ownership and control is part of that, perhaps they don’t want to or can’t get involved in exploring how society works because inevitably media and how it works would come under scrutiny. Ireland has one of the most concentrated media ownership regimes in the world and this raises big issues for our democracy and what gets said and by who.
I had a quick lunch with my friend Stephen and headed off by taxi (no hitching in Dublin I’m afraid..) to the outskirts of the city for a TV3 interview. In the studio I got chatting to the make-up artist and interviewed her about her perspective on life and enjoyed her observations.
I also interviewed Maeve who was the next guest on after me. She is a young teacher who has set-up a support group for people with the same health condition as her. It was great to another example of young people taking action and in fairness this was another example of media working to highlight good causes and important issues, something I think some of the TV3 people have been good on at times, as have others.
I was fairly exhausted by the time my interview came up but I somehow pulled it out of the bag and managed to jizz myself up a bit and it seemed to go well. It was a pre-record so I would have to wait until the following morning to see.
Back at home that evening I caught up on some admin and reflected on a mad day. I had chatted to 100,000s of people, perhaps over a million if I counted the TV interview, and had over 20 face to face conversations on the streets around town.
The media opportunities are great for spreading the word, reporting on progress and promoting positive messages, but it really was time to get back on the road. I decided that tomorrow I would head south. To where, I did not know but I have learned now to do it as an ‘improv’ project – to make it up as it goes and to allow things to unfold. I had no doubt that another day of discovery was waiting.
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