Carlow Traveller Pride Event 2014 by Niall Morris, St. Catherine’s, Carlow.

The 2014 Carlow Traveller Pride event was organised by St. Catherine’s Community Services Centre and the Carlow Traveller Network (CTN) with the support of Carlow County Museum. Our aim was to showcase and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Travelling Community, their talents and history to both the Travelling and settled communities.


Video shows Navan Travellers Workshop members Michael McDonagh, guide and Tom McDonnell demonstrating the art of tinsmithing.

The event was held in St. Catherine’s, St. Joseph’s Road, Carlow town on the 17th of June 2014 and proved a great success with an estimated 400 plus people attending over the course of the day. The event was particularly popular with children from the Travelling and settled communities who were particularly interested in the barrel top wagons along with the stories of the people who lived and grew up in them as well as the demonstration of tinsmithing.

Photo1
A view of some of the barrel top wagons on display.

Navan Travellers Workshop (NTW) brought their Traveller Living History Exhibition to Carlow for the event. This included a traditional Barrel top wagon, shelter tent, photographic exhibition, encampment, tin smith and storyteller. Local Traveller families also brought in their decorated barrel top wagons as well as handmade flat carts and sulkies. Michael McDonagh from NTW told the story of how Travellers slept – with no beds, washed – with no bathroom, cooked and ate – with no kitchen, stored things – with no fridge, earned a living – with no social welfare and bartered and traded without money. Tom McDonnell set up his workshop and gave demonstrations of tinsmithing throughout the day with newly made mugs and other items available to buy.

Tom McDonnell
Tom McDonnell demonstrating the skill of tinsmithing to pupils from St Joseph’s National School.

The event also included a photographic exhibition of Traveller life from the 1940’s through to the 1970’s. The bulk of the photos are taken from a vast collection of photos taken by the American anthropologists, the Gmelch’s, who travelled with the Travelling community in the 1970’s. There was also:

• Performances of traditional Traveller songs
• A video on the Traveller language, the “Gammon”
• Samples of Traveller crafts including handmade copper pieces from a fireside set by the local master craftsman Paddy Donohoe
• A video on horses and their importance to Traveller men
• A display of poems by the local Travellers

IMG_7507
A selection of copper wear made by Paddy Donohoe.

Carlow Traveller Pride Day provided a unique opportunity for members of the settled community and younger Travellers to ask questions and talk directly to other Travellers about their lives, history and culture. The event helps to break down barriers between people and foster greater understanding and value on Traveller culture as well as instilling more pride in the Travelling community.
The event was organised by St. Catherine’s Community Services and supported by Carlow County Museum, HSE Social Inclusion, TUSLA, Carlow Traveller Interagency Group, and the Department of Justice, Equality & Defence.

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Part of the Navan Travellers Workshop ‘Traveller Living History Exhibition’

This blog was written by Niall Morris, Director of Services at St. Catherine’s Community Services.
St. Catherine’s Community Services Centres’ Traveller programmes focus on achieving social change and justice for the Travelling community in Carlow and improving equality outcomes. Their programmes focus on community and personal development, family support and improving health outcomes for Travellers. They also support the Carlow Traveller Network, a developing representative body for the Travelling community in Carlow.

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