The Traveller community has a rich culture, with unique traditions and crafts which are an integral part of the heritage of this community. My Department and several of the bodies under its remit have a number of initiatives to support the recording and celebration of Traveller culture and heritage, including the Travellers' Journey exhibition presented by the National Museum of Ireland. A sum of €150,000 was allocated to the development and realisation of the exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland in County Mayo in 2018. The National Museum is funded from my Department's Vote and the allocation for the Travellers' Journey exhibition accounted for some 50% of the museum's exhibition development budget in 2018. The exhibition, which ran for a year, was opened in July 2018 by President Michael D. Higgins and included a series of events and talks on aspects of Traveller culture and identity. The National Museum has also been involved in a number of other events and initiatives in recent years in partnership with the Traveller community and is in the process of establishing a steering group of museum staff and representatives of the Traveller community to inform its permanent exhibitions and the representation of Traveller culture and heritage in its upcoming history of Ireland galleries.
On 18 July last, I launched the permanent national inventory of intangible cultural heritage, celebrating living cultural heritage practices in Ireland. This initiative represents official State recognition of cultural practices all around Ireland, two of which are Traveller tinsmithing and Cant or Gammon, the traditional language spoken by Irish Travellers. The development of the national inventory of Ireland's intangible cultural heritage is an integral part of my Department's work under the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which requires signatory states to recognise, protect and promote the living cultural heritage of their countries. Following on from the launch, my Department showcased a number of the traditions on the national inventory over the three days of the 2019 National Ploughing Championships. One of the exhibitors was the renowned tinsmith, Tom McDonnell, who exhibited the craft and skills of tinsmithing in my Department's marquee, drawing huge interest from visitors to the marquee.
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The national inventory is not a funding programme, but an initiative to celebrate and work with practitioners and agencies in Ireland to recognise, promote and safeguard these key living cultural heritage practices. My Department is working with its expert advisory committee to examine how it can most effectively work with both custodians of the valuable cultural heritage practices on the inventory and existing agencies to raise awareness of and safeguard these practices for generations. The next meeting of the committee will take place this coming Friday.