July 13th 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.
From the Derry orange order parades the previous day, to a wedding in Kildare today, it seemed that I was getting no shortage of variety. I arrived back in Dublin at 11pm last night and was up early getting myself cleaned up and ready for the wedding. I was back at base in Dublin, in my own bed and catching up with Susan after 2 weeks on the road.
We headed to the shop and picked up the Irish Times. My big mugshot was on the frontpage with the title ‘hitch-hiker guide to the national mood”, promoting a feature article inside by Brian O’Connell. Phew. Half way through the tour and I was back at base and reading about the trip in the national newspaper. A strange kind of feeling.
The sun was booming down so we hit the beach and got a quick dip at Dollymount strand before getting suited and booted and heading off to Kildare for the wedding.
As we landed at the sprawling estate hotel at the edge of Leixslip I got to thinking about how so many weddings are in these old colonial landlord estates and maybe it’s a sign of progress that we the people at least now have access to them and can see how the other half lived for so long.
In so many towns around Ireland, including my home town of Cootehill, the big house of the landlord had their 100s of acres of prime land walled off from the local population. The landlord ruled supreme. People in Mayo told me that the landlord used to have the so-called right to sleep with any bride-to-be in his area and that often a child that resembled the landlord was born to the new couple. We still have our landlords and division, but I think we’ve made progress in many ways in opening up the gates.
All of that aside, this day wasn’t about politics or class. It was about love. Time to celebrate unity not division. So I put my wandering mind to one side and embraced the day with an open heart. Susan’s cousin Deirdre and her English-Sri Lankan partner Sam were getting married in a ceremony they designed themselves in a garden at the back of the main castle.
It was great to see the different backgrounds and nationalities coming together to celebrate love. Culture merging and evolving beyond the narrow divisions of the past. It was great to be at a ceremony that didn’t need the sanction of a church that so many don’t believe in but go along with regardless. It was great to see English and Irish, Sri Lankan and others come together as one to celebrate love.
The ceremony was joyful with Sam giggling his way through it and readings of poetry and scripture from different family and friends including Deirdre’s aunt Anna, a Catholic nun who read the words of Rumi, the Sufi mystic, with such grace and passion.
I got chatting to lots of people through the day and heard stories about work, holidays, love and loss. I was particularly struck by Sam’s father’s heart-felt words on what a kind and caring son Sam is. He cried with respect and love for his son and recommended various spiritual and philosophical texts for his son to assist him in his emerging career as a psychiatrist.
He ended with a plea for all the younger people present to work for fairness and justice. As a Sri Lankan emigrant from a war-torn country he knew what he was talking about. It was refreshing to hear a man speak from the heart and to call for justice in a way that so many shy away from.
Later in the evening I spoke to a young couple about politics and their frustration with trying to get by despite being in supposedly well earning jobs. They are struggling with childcare options and costs, mortgage repayments and a feeling that they are getting walked on by government in order to pay the unjust debts of bondholders and gamblers.
We talked about political reform, how the current system can no longer serve us, and the need for politicians like they work for us by reporting back to us, explaining their decisions, and remembering who pays their wages. I could sense their frustration and anger and know that there are many 100,000s like them. If only all of us who feel this way got organised. What could we achieve?
I didn’t drink during the day as there was too much going on. People to meet, interviews to sort, websites to update. Still falling behind with the blogs despite having hidden in the car for an hour to get one sorted. We got home at midnight ready for another big day, this time off to the President’s house.
Never a dull moment.
The hitching (and non hitching sometimes) in hope continues…
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