Hitching for Hope: A Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Ireland
#1 Irish Times Bestseller
A modern travel tale--part personal pilgrimage, part political quest--that captures the power of human resilience
McKiernan sticks his thumb out, and somehow a healthy dose of humanity manages to roll up alongside him. . . . This book is a paean to nuance, decency and possibility.--Colum McCann, National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin and Apeirogon.
Following the collapse of Ireland's Celtic Tiger economy, social activist Ruair McKiernan questions whether he should join the mounting number of emigrants searching for greater opportunity elsewhere. McKiernan embarks on a hitchhiking odyssey with no money, no itinerary and no idea where he might end up each night. His mission: to give voice to those emerging from one of the most painful periods of economic and social turmoil in Ireland's history. Engaging, provocative and sincere, Hitching for Hope is a testimony to the spirit of Ireland. It is an inspirational manifesto for hope and healing in troubled times.
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About the Author
Ruairí McKiernan is a renowned Irish social campaigner, Fulbright scholar, former Presidential appointee to Ireland's Council of State, and European Director of the American nonprofit Narrative 4. He is also the host of the popular Love and Courage podcast, founder of the pioneering SpunOut.ie national youth charity, and a founding member of the Uplift organization. In 2017, the global social entrepreneur foundation, Ashoka, named McKiernan one of the top ten people leading social change in Ireland.
'In Hitching for Hope, Ruairí McKiernan sets out on a pilgrimage to capture truth and to hear stories that deserve to be heard. He sticks his thumb out, and somehow a healthy dose of humanity manages to roll up alongside him. McKiernan is a writer who finds home in the elsewhere. This book is a paean to nuance, decency and possibility.'--Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin; cofounder of Narrative 4
'Ruairí's tale of his journey comes as a breath of fresh air, awakening us to the adventures in store when we embark beyond well-trod routines into new encounters. It reminds me of my own hitchhiking trip in the UK seventy years ago--full of spunk, resilience, and zest for discovery. Whether "hitching for hope" or working together in a neighbourhood garden, we can link arms for the sake of the Great Turning to a life-sustaining future.'--Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life
'The act of hitchhiking demands spontaneous interaction--a subversive moment of community between strangers that is increasingly lost or avoided in lives dictated by algorithms and automated route planners. The insights Ruairí McKiernan shares from people he meets on these freewheeling journeys somehow defy cynicism. The many voices in this book, from undocumented immigrants to young farmers, capture Ireland at a time of deep crisis but also radical change.'--Caelainn Hogan, author of Republic of Shame
'Ireland went through its Celtic Tiger phase, all consumerism and growth. And then it crashed. In the aftermath, Ruairí McKiernan found that, like humans everywhere, what people really yearned for was community and connection, even if they'd almost forgotten how any of that worked. This is a tale that will resonate all over the world.'--Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home
'Making a reader stop and think is something we should all want to achieve, and Ruairí McKiernan succeeds. Ordinary people and their lived experiences are at the heart of this book. Hitching for Hope demonstrates that, despite a diversity of backgrounds, we all want the same things: to find peace, to flourish and to help our families and communities thrive.'--Lynn Ruane, Independent Senator; activist; author of People Like Me
'In this pilgrimage around modern Ireland, Ruairí takes us to the people--to the nation's beating heart. At times we glimpse the light that, since the old Dark Ages, has been Ireland's gift to a hungry world.'--Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul and Poacher's Pilgrimage
'Listening requires focus, attention, and awareness--skills that Ruairí has perfected. He listens to so many different perspectives without reacting or debating, and opens his mind and heart to each of them. I highly recommend this book. I guarantee that you will not be able to put it down.'--Frances Black, Independent Senator; singer; founder of RISE Foundation
'Ruairí McKiernan hitchhikes through Ireland's soul--its heartbeat--to bring us an authentic and utterly compelling narrative. Think McCarthy's Bar for the socially conscious. An important and enjoyable read from a trusted voice.'--Brian O'Connell, journalist; author of The Personals
'Burnt out from his work as a community organizer, Ruairí McKiernan decided to hit the road. He stuck out his thumb--and his neck, too--hoping to learn something about himself and his country. A wholehearted testament to the power of deep listening and a beautiful glimpse into the Irish spirit, Hitching for Hope tells the story of his journey. There is cause for hope in these dark times, and Ruairí found it in the people.'--Andrew Forsthoefel, author of Walking to Listen
'Ruairí McKiernan takes time to look behind the stone walls of Ireland. Travelling from pillar to post, he takes note of what many of us sometimes fail to see. Always revealing, always caring and compassionate.'--Christy Moore, singer-songwriter
'After travelling around Ireland and listening rather than speaking, McKiernan has produced a personal diary, a guided tour of his native country and an Irish Canterbury Tales for the twenty-first century. Hitching for Hope is a package of hope itself, full of kindness, political observations and of course the craic. Irish at its core and international in its search for optimism and communal involvement, it's an easy and uplifting read.'--Peggy Seeger, singer-songwriter; author of First Time Ever
'Funny, philosophical, and moving, this book illuminates a lesser-seen map of a better and kinder humanity. In an age of cynicism and despair, the stories and insights Ruairí unveils are exactly the medicine we need to wake up and remember who we really are. Whether or not it persuades you to hitchhike to your next business meeting, this book will certainly remind you that people--and the future--may not be as scary as you thought.'--Amanda Palmer, singer-songwriter; author of The Art of Asking
'Hitchhiking is the ultimate act of surrender and vulnerability where one must depend on the kindness of strangers and one's own inner patience. At a time of social and ecological transition, McKiernan opens himself to the road, offering up a moving window into the fears, dreams, and possibilities of the Irish land and people. More transporting than a travelogue, Hitching for Hope is a tale full of serendipitous encounters and the spirit of Ireland's byways.'--Chuck Collins, Institute for Policy Studies; author of Born on Third Base
'An epic journey into the hearts and minds of Ireland. Powerful and insightful.'--Damien Dempsey, folk singer
"An uplifting account of McKiernan's journey and the stories shared with him along the way. Will appeal to lovers of memoirs and patrons who enjoy reading about those who effect and inspire change."