As I have previously advised the House in my response to Dáil Question No. 689 of 19th November last, the Travelling Community has a rich culture, with unique traditions and crafts which are an integral part of the heritage of this community.
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/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.
Examples of other initiatives promoting Traveller Culture awareness by bodies under the aegis of my Department include:
The development and realisation of the Travellers' Journey Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life in County Mayo. €150,000, was allocated to the development and realisation of 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. A further €10,000 was provided by the NMI to support projects arising from the Travellers’ Journey Exhibition including:
- CAMP. An art project led by artist Aideen Barry in which she and her students from Limerick School of Art and Design worked with members of the Traveller community in the west of Ireland to produce a series of visual art pieces. The resultant art pieces will be installed as part of this exhibition. This project ran from November 2018 – February 2019 in the Museum of Country Life.
- A talk entitled ‘I am Traveller: Our Histories and Heritage’ chaired by Senator Collette Kelleher held in February 2019 for which Traveller groups from Cork, Donegal, Meath, Mayo and Dublin formed the panel and shared their insights on traditional and contemporary Traveller culture and interesting community initiatives.
- The launch in April 2019 of the Travellers Journey Children’s Book. This was a partnership project between the National Museum, Kids’ Own Publishing, Involve, and Scoil Iosa, Ballina and funded by the National Museum, Department of Justice and Equality and Mayo North East under SICAP and PEIL.
The Crawford Art Gallery in partnership with Cork Traveller Women’s Network & Cork Visibility Group also hosted a number of events in the Gallery as part of Cork Traveller Pride 2019 Festival; -
Talking with Travellers: Workshop for people interested in knowing more about the journey, history, culture and real lived experience of Irish Travellers.
- Looped Film Screenings: Traveller Oral history film “Would you like to Suni at the Vardo” by Cork Traveller Women’s Network and UCC Folklore Dept. Film “Beady Pocket” is based on a poem by Traveller writer Rosaleen McDonagh, film by Mahon Traveller women with Frameworks Films.
- Craft Workshops: Workshops on the traditional Traveller craft of paper flower making.
I can assure the Deputy that my Department and f the bodies under its remit, will continue this proactive support for the recording and celebration of Traveller Culture and Heritage.