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Hitching for Hope

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What to expect

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 Ruairí 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.


Critics Review

  • ‘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

  • ‘An epic journey into the hearts and minds of Ireland. Powerful and insightful.’—Damien Dempsey, folk singer

  • ‘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

  • ‘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

  • ‘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


  • ‘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

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