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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Paddy and ‘Saiorse’

Never one to resist a travel book, I couldn’t help picking up Round Ireland With a Fridge. But how silly! I put it down again. Really! Then picked it up a second time to read the dust jacket notes. Who was this Tony Hawks, and what was his story, anyway? Well, for starters he’s an Englishman, not an Irishman. Okay, a travel book by someone touring a country not his own is no novelty. But a travel memoir by a man who hitch-hiked the whole way around the Emerald Isle with a refrigerator in tow, just to win a hundred-pound bet? Now that’s different. And undeniably silly. One observation that haunts the pages is: “A totally purposeless idea, but a damn fine one.” And it must be said that Hawks pulls off the trip and the book with style.

To win the bet, he had to hitchhike the circumference of Ireland, Northern Ireland excluded, within a month. To make up for the excluded area (he did nip over the border a couple of times), he had to get himself and the fridge to two designated islands, one off the north and one off the south coast. No stipulation was made as to the size of the refrigerator, so Tony wisely bought the smallest he could find (its price exceeded that of the wager), one he could pull on a “trolley” (what we Yanks would call a furniture dolly) and the size most likely to fit into the back seat of a small car.

I’m not going to reveal details of this hilarious odyssey. There was a lot of time spent in pubs, but Tony saw a lot of the Irish countryside, too, including a few famous sites. He met people, made friends, had laughs. This book could as easily be shelved with humor as with travel. Need I say more?

A bit more. My point for St. Patrick’s Day is that along the way some blokes in a pub decide that the refrigerator needs a name, and the name given it is ‘Saiorse,’ Gaelic for ‘freedom.’ And on the day Saiorse Molloy (the naming took place in Mat Molloy’s pub) was named, Tony Hawks visited the focal point of the small town of Westport, dominated by a statue of no other than St. Patrick. “The words beneath him,” Tony remarks, “made interesting reading.” The inscription:


Wouldn’t “the least of all the faithful” be bowled over by a modern St. Patrick’s Day? The parade in so German an American city as Cincinnati goes on for hours!

Ireland gives me hope. After a long history of Troubles, the Irish have turned toward peace. It gives me hope for other trouble spots the world over. Peace and saiorse: not incompatible but a necessary conjunction.


Deborah said...

From Mary McAlese, Pres. of Ireland, in her message today, ". . . our investment in peace and in our ability on St. Patrick's
Day to be family to one another from Beijing to Bahrain and from
Belfast to Bantry. We know that our patron saint would encourage us
to work with each other, for each other and work through these
difficulties to a better future for everyone."

A grim future... said...

David, your missed at the Friday AM convention of Stellar Minds.........

P. J. Grath said...

Deborah, thanks for that message. Keith, this is a sneaky way to get a message to David!