Tuesday, 15 February 2000

Tony Hawks: Round Ireland With A Fridge (1998)

Edition: Ebury, 1998
Review number: 437

Tony Hawks once did a comedy show in Ireland, and saw the bizarre sight of someone hitch-hiking with a fridge as though this were a perfectly normal thing to do. Telling this to a group of friends back in England led to a drunken bet that he could hitch-hike all the way around Ireland in under a month, with a fridge.

The story of the journey is amusing, but the reaction he gets is much what you would expect, bemused but genial helpfulness. There are no real surprises.

Hawks decided to go round the Republic only, omitting Northern Ireland, for reasons which derive from the Troubles. Because of the impression gained from thirty years' worth of TV news coverage, the average English person has the idea that Northern Irish life is only about bombs and punishment beatings. When he had to travel into Armagh, he did end up in one of the more intimidating parts of Northern Ireland, among "Beware of Snipers" signs and sectarian graffiti, and this served to strengthen this opinion. I was actually living in Northern Ireland at the time of Hawks' trip, and my impression was very different. The people are really friendly, in a way which is no longer seen in England, even though the community is so divided; the grim towns (full of houses built in dark stone in depressing styles) contrast with beautiful countryside - the lakes of Fermanagh, the Antrim coast and Giant's Causeway, the Sperrin mountains.

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