Page 1

Traveller voice of the

Autumn 2012 Issue 86 €3

“I Fight for my Family, my Town and my Culture” John Joe Nevin, Olympic Medallist

llers King of The Trave



Dear Readers,

of the Traveller. tumn issue of Voice au e th to e om elc W d to working with r and I look forwar I am the new edito the country in and readers around g community groups that the Travellin e m of a magazin ge is th to g in ut contrib ide in. ue to take great pr community contin ur hands is jamyo in ng u are holdi s The latest issue yo , photos, humorou , opinion, features ver co r Ou . ns m packed with news lu co ur favourite regular o did writing and all yo national hero wh hn Joe Nevin, our Jo s te ympics. ra Ol leb e ce th ry at sto a silver medal g in nn wi by d ou r. the country pr home in Mullinga and his family at ong str e ar ion at We visit John Joe uc ed d Travellers in an t or sp of in ss s er cce ell su Trav mendous . Along with the tre ue iss re is tu th fu in a es es em ur th th feat r Photo of the Mon r John Joe Nevin, ou lented soccer playe ta a yth ar cC M ah nn va Sa ed ro sports he who have form also meet the men from Co Kerry. We am. te ll ba -Traveller foot Donegal’s first all on Donegal and ht lig ot sp e place th each This issue we also ecial reports from Longford, with sp ct of bje su e th ith W s. of these countie gly in as g incre Travellers becomin mes and m ra og pr popular in Irish TV is by having a films, we mark th with the director special interview aveller film. of an upcoming Tr als to VOTM ve re Mark O’Connor scinated fa so is ia why the med d he offers a with Travellers an s view of his new behind-the-scene avellers’. film ‘King of the Tr al matters, we ion at In terms of educ fering group who are of meet a community st time fir e th rtunity for in Offaly an oppo on from iti ns tra e th Traveller children which makes e m m ra og pr a in to take part r them. ary school easier fo t primary to second ’t be VOTM withou ul sure, VOTM wo dn ea a e m giv od to go r ed fo te d an An ays guar lumn, which is alw . gh lau od go a , se Martin Beanz’s co of cour s take on life, and rs zany and hilariou d we have reporte an e, in az ag m l na tio na g a in is ell VOTM of the Trav land covering news Ire nd ou ar all d se ba community. e and covers the thy is based in Trale Marguerite McCar vers the Mid West co n Sherlock Brya ie ar M n An ondent t. es W South phy is our corresp while Theresa Mur s ni En works e m yc fro Jo n ie gio re ford. Trac and lives in Water news on rts po re d for the South East d, Athlone an lan ks on M in d e fic an of d, out of our o office base ichael Power is als M . ds an idl M e th from n area. the Greater Dubli this covers news from ad to your right on e th in ation is azine. ag m r ou r Our contact inform fo be how to subscri of ils ta de th , wi ue page along t for the next iss g to submit conten If you are plannin line, which is also ad de e the magazin of te os no ke ta e as ple to receive old phot ht. We are happy gs din ed W r ou in in the ad on the rig n otos for inclusio ph d an ne to La rn y tu or for Mem e an advertiser, sections. If you ar is only or Out and About ecial offer, which sp of our excellent ils ta de r fo 9 ge Pa ited period. available for a lim


Enjoy The Read!


voice of the



67 €4.25 February 2009 Issue

Finbar Furey

Summer 2012 Issue

ur back on fo Looking music from of test decades land’s grea Ire of e on s musician

debatee house? the bige bo ss of th Who is th


w DVD siness: Ne nd-up t ...News rou Back in Bu speaks ou r Gerry Ryan s: The work of a farrie fit If the shoe


Paddy and Sally’s Excellent Adventure

ive n Perspeibicttion of Traveller life The Italia si’s exh ncesco Ale

VOTT Feb 09 Final.indd


85 €3



r o t i d E w e N

TravellerTraveller voice of the


26/03/2009 11:51:42

Communion Season around the country

John Collins Carries Olympic Torch

in Dublin meeting Jedward and other celebs in the process.


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Includes post and packing. Delivered to your door. Contact Kathy (Sales & Marketing Executive) on 090 6498017 or email Visit us at Submissions for inclusion in the December edition of Voice of the Traveller must be with us by Wednesday 14 November 2012. Magazine Deadline: Wednesday November 14th 2012. Contact the Voice of the Traveller team Mairéad Ní Chaoimh (Editor/Manager): Kathy Meehan (Sales & Marketing Exec, CSP): Michael Power (Regional Reporter, Dublin): Tracie Joyce (Regional Reporter, Midlands): Theresa Murphy (Regional Reporter, South East) Ann Marie Sherlock Bryan (Regional Reporter, Mid West) Marguerite McCarthy (Regional Reporter, South West) Margaret Carr (Sales & Marketing) Martin Francis Ward (Sales & Marketing) or contact at Head Office on 090 6498017 Voice of the Traveller, Involve, Unit 1, Monksland Business Park, Athlone, Co. Roscommon Email: Photos can be emailed as jpegs to the editor or posted directly to her at the address above. Voice of the Traveller assumes that the full permission of anyone featured in a photo has been secured prior to submitting. Views expressed in Voice of the Traveller do not necessarily reflect policies of the editor or Involve. Some photos submitted to the magazine may be used on our website.

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oor. on

… e u s s i s i h t In John Joe Nevin’s Olympic Success



’s Silver John Joe Nevmin e in Mullingar.

We chat to John

10 John Joe’s Silver! 14 The Real King of the Travellers 18 Travellers Take Pride 21 Longford Special 24 Donegal Special

Joe at his ho

14 Regulars

The Real King of

A new film to be

the Travellers

aired on irish tele


5 Martin Beanz


6 News Roundup 30 Dear Annie

32 Remembrances 34 Out and About

36 Wedding Snaps

Travellers Take

A roundup, from


around Ireland, of

Traveller Pride W

eek. 3

Savannah’s Star Rises. Soccer player Savannah McCarthy (left) of Listowel Celtic in action. The teenager has captained Ireland at underage international level. Email your photos to or post to Voice of the Traveller, Involve, Unit 1, Monksland Business Park, Athlone, Co. Roscommon.

Photo of the month

z n a e B n i t Mar t s e p a d u B on Well there I was, sitting amongst a group of 19 Roma people and thinking about how my pasty white skin was no match for their beautiful brown. On the first day I noticed that my body was going into some sort of malfunction as my ankles became swollen and my face all puffy. Anyone would think I was a pregnant cow. The lowest temperature during my stay was 30 degrees, and by God was my body trying hard to defend itself. I was sweating like something out of a subSaharan fitness video. The first day I said to myself, OK Beanz, just sit back and try not to talk too much. Give others a chance, I thought. Well I couldn’t help myself, because when the trainer started asking who we were and where we were from, good old Beanz decides that he would talk for about ten minutes. Of course the rest of the group were way too nice to tell me to shut the hell up. The first night was a bit weird for me as we had to share the room with another person. I have not shared a room in years and I do like the comfort of sleeping naked, especially when your room is like a sauna. However, it would be unfair to petrify the other roommate into sleeping with the covers over his head, so I decided to wear my clothes. Anyway, one thing I never knew about myself was the fact that I snored. Now snoring can sometimes be excused, but not when it

“Now, one thing I never knew about myself was that I snored. Snoring can sometimes be excused, but not when it sounds like the mating call of a T-Rex.”

“On the first day I noticed that my body was going into some sort of malfunction as my ankles became swollen and my face all puffy. Anyone would think I was a pregnant cow.” sounds like the mating call of a T-Rex. I had a great sleep, but as soon as I opened my eyes, I could see that the other lad was looking like a zombie. I asked him if he had a good sleep and he politely said, eh no. He continued to tell me how in between me sounding like a Jurassic Park character and a wild boar getting attacked, I also stopped breathing a few times. I was thinking to myself, this fella is a bit too cheeky for my liking. Well, that was the end of my room sharing experience because he decided to leave the room in search of another. I had the room to myself for the next 9 days. I’d like to say that I felt bad, but it’s hard to feel bad when you can sleep in the nip, in 30 degree weather. Of course, like with anything I do or any place I go to, I always annoy someone somewhere. The first occasion of that occurred when we were to do a role play exercise. It was meant to be simple; however Beanz decides to go all professional on it and treat it like an improvisation. It turned out to be the most sexist piece of comedy to have ever been produced. I was still laughing to myself when another young woman from the group stood up and publicly attacked my work. At first I was thinking that she must be a little bit jealous of my fantastic comedy, but I was wrong. This woman stood up with conviction and tore strips out of me and the

rest in my group for portraying women in a less than favourable light. It was at this point I realised comedy and human rights just don’t mix well. The disco night and pub crawl afterwards turned out to be a great night. And no one seemed to mind my sense of humour once they were plied with copious amounts of alcohol. I went out dancing of course, looking like a pylon doing Irish dancing. I went this way with the legs and that way with the legs, then I went straight into this big Hungarian brute of a man… then I left quickly. People say that Roma and Travellers have nothing in common, well I can clearly state for the record that they are just as energetic as us on the floor and at the bar. Coming back to Ireland was a hard thing to do. Leaving beautiful weather and great people behind was so difficult. However it was even more difficult to face the Irish weather when you are still wearing the shirts from Budapest. I froze on that bus journey back to Galway. I was looking at a fat person beside me and thinking, you know what Mr, the first chance I get I’m gonna hide under one of your rolls of fat. I was that desperate. I recommend to everyone that is interested in human rights and in particular Roma rights, to apply next year for the ten day training programme. It will open your eyes to the discrimination faced by the Roma, and it will also show you that it is the same as the discrimination Travellers face here. Solidarity through adversity. 5

News nis New Home for En Club After SchoolClub for Travellers has

ol An Ennis After Scho sure e. Following the clo m ho w ne found itself a b now ing Centre, the clu of St Joseph’s Train mmunity Co e ov Orchard Gr meets in Respond’s to Lesley g in rd rt Road. Acco Building on the Go “The club tor of the project: Hamilton, Coordina ol Club. It ho sc er erry Tree Aft Ch as n ow kn w no is ing is such e community build is fortunate that th eded ne h d includes a muc an ideal venue an lp of he e ay area. With th enclosed outside pl me so d we managed to fin enthusiastic staff e club.” th p and fittings to equi suitable furniture s ha , ub, set up in 2003 The Afterschool Cl as w no over the years and continued to grow ing av Le e n, from aged 6 to th many as 35 childre th wi lp e club to receive he Cert age, attend th rt in social pa e tak to as well their schoolwork as tivities. and educational ac l Reporter ock Bryan, Regiona By Ann Marie Sherl

f the same: the belie it, but one thing is ard he be ll prayers wi they have that their lieve be s er ell image. Trav by doing this pilgr eir th r fo es it three tim they have to walk le true. A lot of peop e m intention to co try and un co e th selves er em ov th all en harder on Travellers from make the climb ev ck, or tri Pa g gh vin oa lie Cr b be m eir bare feet, abroad come to cli by walking it in th ar. ye y er ev be s yo er Ma ay ty help their pr ‘The Reek’ in Coun their suffering will ded ly, known as ‘Reek Ju of ay nd e is not recommen Su t tic las The heard. This prac main o tw e gh th e oa ar Cr th s. 15 st too dangerou Sunday’ and Augu gh as it is considered oa Cr d en att ch le ua op pe the Irish ‘Cr dates that Traveller Patrick comes from k’. has been passed n tio di tra ‘Saint Patrick’s Stac is ng Th . ni Patrick Phádraig’ mea n tio r ra fo ne ted ge fas to tion ys St Patrick down from genera Popular legend sa It e. m he it co of to s d ar for ye and at the en and will continue 40 days and nights that Travellers th fai g on wn the side of the str e do th ll s highlight rew a silver be th us Jes rra’ rd Lo e th ck and the she demon ‘Co still have in St Patri ountain knocking m ck tri Pa es ak gh sn oa e Cr th o climbs nishing all Christ. Anyone wh from the sky and ba a is el it ap n; ch tio ial inten s later a small does so with a spec from Ireland. Year , thousands e th r fo ar ye mit of the mountain y er su pilgrimage ev s built on the m wa st Mo . e ar ain Cl nt b the mou pray. A lot of of people who clim where people go to mbing it, cli r fo on as gh Patrick every re Cr eir people have th avellers attend oa Tr to g gin meone belon rie Sherlock Bryan, ar. By Ann Ma whether it is for so ye . ed di s ha at someone th Regional Reporter them that is sick or r doing fo on as re nt re ffe Everyone has a di

Croagh Patrick: A s Magnet for Pilgrim

ocates for More Health Adv w nd Wicnkarlo a re a d il K s e ti e n u Co are Traveller Actio ars of training Kild n

After four ye McDonagh, Kathlee et O’Brien, Sandra idg Br t en es fication pr to d prou Certificates of Quali idget Cawley with Br d an es over gh ul na od Do m Mc er studying 8 alth Advocacy. Aft He ity Our un led m D m UC Co in chers in the cipating as resear rti pa d an en s m ar wo ye ur four udy, these fo Traveller Health St in Geels, All-Ireland Action as advocates ell th Kildare Trav er wi g e is in m rk m wo ra w og no pr e ar ellers. This healthcare for Trav ive e sit Th po y. g ne tin va or De pp su by Valerie and is coordinated E rs HS ve e co th d by an ed ge nd fu St, Newbrid their office on Main m fro n 7 ru 08 is on ice rv ted se n be contac Wicklow. Valerie ca m. Kildare and West yh ar : kildareprim ail em by or 8 95 10 25


ndra McDonagh, Bridget O’Brien, Sa ), Kathleen Justin Parkes (HSE idget Cawley. McDonagh and Br

use, Co. Wexford. Hook Head Lightho

r in Movie re ta S to st a o C rd tu Wexfo in Wexford will fea d and Hook Head

Fethar sed The scenic views of I which will be relea Harry, Hamlet and d lle ca in m d fil se g ba in m ny pa in an upco a production com iden Productions, scenes. Fethard e m so later this year. Ma m fil to re in the area we low the ick W Co s, uctions, suggested Baltinglas rks for Maiden Prod wo o wh rd y, fo llo ex W Mo h e man Shan e, telling him Sout oducer, Martin Blak d area to the film’s pr ce the producer an coastal scenes. On t oo sh to for the l st ea ca id e a would be . Among th agreed immediately ey th ea ardar th e th Fe w m director sa ed locals fro ler, are two delight ril th y itt am gr a ah is Gr r film, which . Dublin born acto e and Finola Foley ber. on-Sea Shane Dunn leased this Novem The film will be re le. ro d lea e th s Earley ha r y, Regional Reporte By Theresa Murph



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a Cause Running forCorco eted 35 ran has just compl

an Waterford man Al ile round trip was . In total the 917 m ys da 35 in d marathons rcoran who suffere his father Milo Co s ha r done in honour of he fat Alan’s last year. Although a stroke in March courage that d an h gt en s his str fully recovered it wa us feat. Alan has nquer the tremendo inspired Alan to co e the excitement ing. He said, “I lov always loved runn hievement I get and the sense of ac of a new challenge te the 21-year-old ishing line” To da ic medals. when I cross the fin 25 All Ireland athlet n wo s ha e let ath determined th and finished on d began on May 27 Irish Heart Alan’s lap of Irelan g was in aid of the kin rta de un ’s hn Jo June 30th. impressive €7,000 anaged to raise an Foundation and m “Every mile I run is cause. Alan says, for the worthwhile o are fighting their all over Ireland wh a tribute to people d did and also for oke just like my Da s way back from a str can raise awarenes ’t make it. I hope I . y” da y all those who didn er ev d lan ects someone in Ire of a disease that aff sors were the Irish on sp d an s ter y suppor Centre and Amongst his man nal Rehabilitation tio Na e th n, tio da Heart Foun om ran with him of Hope, some of wh the Football Village gional Reporter Theresa Murphy, Re on his journey. By

dition Spancill Hill Tra nters from all

of pu It is a day hundreds come together ad ro over Ireland and ab e settled people com for. Travellers and of n 0 years of traditio to celebrate over 30 th wi ir. People come the Spancill Hill Fa Street even dogs to sell. horses, cattle and ners tai s and street enter traders, musician ace pl is a great meeting all come. The fair ury, nt ce tival. In the 17th and traditional fes ra de un st fair was held it is believed the fir ich wh d King Charles 2n royal charter from ery serve alcohol in ev bestowed a right to ys of da n miles for seven house within seve re we s fair 1,175 horse the fair. At the 1913 Mr a British Army by purchased for the s e 1924 fair 700 horse Robinson and at th e th single buyer. In were bought by a was song Spancill Hill 1870’s the famous ine. ns by Michael Co id composed in the US to e m co le continue to Thousands of peop old e ag e to continue th the Fair every year the festival. tradition and enjoy k Bryan, oc By Ann-Marie Sherl Regional Reporter

of a Leegsuemnmerd The Dewaasth announced over th

The death nist ts writer and colum of renowned spor ng ni ring a career span Con Houlihan. Du nd fo s often wrote of hi over 60 years Con rs of be unters with mem memories and enco cident in unity. In one such the Traveller comm e th r fo le he had written recalled in an artic s hi of the writer spoke Irish independent,

Scarecrows Exhibition in the Waterford City Library ayed

rary pl Waterford City Lib n of tio host to an exhibi ber. The em Scarecrows in Sept th of e Waterford exhibition is part d features over Harvest Festival an m all corners 120 scarecrows fro arecrows of Ireland. These sc All Ireland are courtesy of the onships which Scarecrow Champi w, Co Laois. were held in Durro lay was a This colourful disp a family fun ve brilliant way to ha about Irish day while learning traditions. y, By Theresa Murph l Reporter na gio Re Waterford

es of w during certain tim upbringing and ho p up m ca d n’ family woul the year the ‘O’Brie for by d regularly called nearby his home an would me sugar, which he a cup of milk or so ate” is how onderfully articul always oblige. “W and aveller community he described the Tr st them dice shown again believed the preju orance. erstanding and ign was due to misund Regional Reporter By Michael Power,

e The Dohertys at th Spancill Hill Fair.

e voiceofthetraveller.i @ fo in t ac nt co us r item fo If you have a news we’ll call you back! d an 7 01 98 64 0 09 or call

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News heels ‘Wow’ Women on W en ok part in the Wom

to 30 Excited women llege at St Augustine’s Co op on Wheels worksh ne in do all s Waterford. It wa in Dungarvan, Co Sean Kelly e  th of leg e 50k and 90k th r fo on ati ar ep pr s out from dug their old bike tour. Some women m a friend. fro ke borrowed a bi rs he ot s; ed sh eir th ally enjoyed showed up and re all ey th y da e th On sted by event which was ho themselves at the rtnership. Waterford Sports Pa and healthy. had fun and got fit es ag Women of all en in the rtunity for the wom It was a good oppo ek cycling we n ve se take part in a Waterford area to s about bike included  workshop programme which s and nutrition.  maintenance skill ep fit. and a fun way to ke It is a brilliant idea spins all the a series of training After taking part in sign up for ere encouraged to women involved  w utes on the Sean uise, one of the ro the 50km Kelly Cr rford. Kelly Tour of Wate r y, Regional Reporte ph By Theresa Mur


e jackpot! th s it h o g in -b ru h rt Drive-t their cars to take pa hind the wheels of

hopped be e summer. The People of all ages aterford during th W to e m ca ich wh ngo car park. This was in drive-through bi l Park in the B&Q tai Re n ow rst tle Bu Association, event took place in in aid of the Carers eld s h wa ich wh ent, the first time the ev rd. rfo , hooked ate W in ld was he l store in Waterford Dollard, an electrica d an Hayes ck lly Di Ke d m an fro Staff re displayed on we rs be m nu e th that ough to up two televisions y that was lucky en the night. Anybod on r lle mething ca so o s ng wa bi e it was th t craic and ian ill br s wa It s. rn car ho ty who win honked their with limited mobili lly good for those cia pe es and take s n wa fu It e . th nt differe iven straight to dr be d ul co ey Th o. cannot attend bing rt of their cars. fo d lit up m co e th m part fro e open air game an full advantage of th ok to s er ok sm all Also eir fancy. all was the €700 whenever it took th t; the best prize of gh ni e th on s ize pr donated to There were lots of Various sponsors full house winner. e th to nt n night with we fu a at s th cash . Overall it wa an rm No ey rv Ha ding g and old really the prize pot inclu ous game that youn ul fab a s wa It e. er xt year. a buzzing atmosph rn to Waterford ne I hope to see it retu d an er eth tog ed enjoy r y, Regional Reporte By Theresa Murph

Francie Carries the Olympic TldoIrircshh

Boxing Sghuie cNecvine’sswisnning

Irish boxer Hu e him through to th performances got h ut Yo g ur nb Brande semi-finals of the He y. an rm der Ge Cup in Frankfurt/O s win as is his hi th wi ed is delight . management team


14-year-o Francie Stokes is a in es with his family liv o Traveller boy wh e m eti once in a lif Derry. He had the 012 g involved in the 2 in be opportunity of rch . He was a to London Olympics h ed the torch throug rri ca bearer and he ay aw s ile m ich is a few Magheramason, wh June 5th. from Derry City, on g r of his local boxin be Francie is a mem o kil 36 g the reignin club Oakleaf. He is s of forty fights he ha ut . O Irish champion ion ss pa a d s a talent an lost only two. He ha e  on ed iss has never m for boxing and he ce he started. sin night’s training the e is to compete at His main goal in lif fore be s er fellow Travell Olympics like his cie an Nevin and Fr him- like John Joe ys he wants to win sa Barrett.  Francie cs. Aside from his gold at the Olympi the ent Francie is also obvious boxing tal at d lle ro ever to be en first Irish Traveller St ol ho s grammar sc Derry’s prestigiou s been and the school ha Columb’s College

etty big 0 years so it is a pr open for over a 10 . He m hi of d e very prou deal. His family ar age. g un yo a uch at such has achieved so m g un yo r fo el ng role mod He is an outstandi st ju It . nd ughout Irela Traveller boys thro on rk and determinati wo rd shows that ha e end. always pay off in th y, ph ur M By Theresa Waterford Regional Reporter,


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TravellerTraveller voice of the

voice of the



67 €4.25 February 2009 Issue

Finbar Furey

Summer 2012 Issue


r back on fou Looking music from of atest decades land’s gre one of Ire s musician

debate house? the big bo ss of the Who is the


DVD siness: New nd-up t ...News rou Back in Bu speaks ou Gerry Ryan : The work of a farrier e fits If the sho


Paddy and Sally’s Excellent Adventure


ctive er life n Perspeibit vell ion of Tra The Italia si’s exh ncesco Ale

VOTT Feb 09 Final.indd


85 €3


26/03/2009 11:51:42

Communion Season around the country

John Collins Carries Olympic Torch

in Dublin meeting Jedward and other celebs in the process.

Margaret Carr Sales & Marketing

Please contact Involve Head Office to get in touch with Martin and Margaret on 090 6498017

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John Joe Silver

John Joe Nevin, the 23-year-old boxer from Mullingar, has now firmly established himself as a national hero following his silver medal win at London’s Olympic Games in August. Nevin, having lifted the hearts of the nation with his boxing triumph, has also earned himself a place in Traveller history by proudly recognising his Traveller background in the lead up to bringing home an Olympic medal.


John Joe at home with his Family in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

Tracie Joyce and Voice of the Traveller Manager Mairéad Ní Chaoimh visited John Joe at his family home in Mullingar a few weeks after his historic Olympic victory. The Irish flags and bunting were still fluttering in the breeze and flying high on the narrow street where his parents live on the outskirts of the town. Life has changed dramatically for the Nevins since the Olympics. We were invited into his family home and led to the kitchen, where standing prominently was a large cabinet packed to the gills

with John Joe’s trophies, another one we were told was in his bedroom. We met his brother Paddy, who at just 18 is following in the footsteps of John Joe and already is a two time All-Ireland champion. We sat down with the family at the kitchen table. His mother Winnie reflected on how proud she was of John Joe’s achievement and went on to say how when she saw him boxing at the age of 8 she knew he had talent. “He was doing a shuffle in the ring back then,” she laughed. Winnie put his medal win

in the kind of context that only a mother can by saying: “The fantasy was good while it lasted but it’s back to reality now for John Joe and back to training.” John Joe was on a three week break from training and took time out from playing a relaxing game of football with his friends to talk to VOTM. Wearing his green Team Ireland singlet proudly, and with his family name and the Olympic rings tattooed onto his upper arm, the straight-talking champion boxer sat down to talk. Here is our interview with John Joe at his home in Mullingar. How did it feel when you won your first Olympic medal? John Joe: Winning the bronze medal was my favourite moment of the games. I was the first Traveller ever to win an Olympic medal. It was like putting us as Travellers on the map again. You were initially disappointed when you didn’t win the gold medal. How do you feel about it now? John Joe: I feel happy about it now. You get so far and you want to win it all. I was odds on to win but on the day he got me.

John Joe with his brother Paddy.

John Joe with his mother Winnie.

How has winning changed your life? John Joe: Walking down the street is different. Now everyone knows me, and people stop to get a picture with me. 11

Who inspired you in your boxing career? John Joe: Kenny Egan. I used to look up to him and say to myself, I’d love to win a medal like him. I also get inspiration from my (late) grandparents. I’d love the likes of them to see me now. My brother-in-law too (Daniel Dan Nevin, who died a few months ago). He told me I’d get a medal and I did. I hope this medal will also inspire my son. What do you think the win means to the Travellers? John Joe: I hope it does. It’s the first medal for the Travelling community. I fight for my family, my town and my culture. Did you like the homecoming? John Joe: I first thought it was going to look brutal, with me on an open-top bus going down the street with only a 100 travellers there. But I was away from it all at the Olympics and didn’t realise the support at home. It turned out to be amazing. Did knowing your family were turned away from a pub in Mullingar to watch your match affect your performance? John Joe: I got a call about it five minutes before I went into the ring. But it mustn’t have had an effect as I won that time. The pubs will never change.

One Direction’s Niall Horan at the homecoming.

How long have you been boxing? John Joe: I was 7 when I started. I have always loved fighting big fellas, being a smaller man. Because if they don’t beat you, they have really lost. We are all the same size on the floor. Are you going to turn professional? John Joe: It’s an option for me. I am thinking about it, and I’ll make a decision by the end of September. How have you found media attention? John Joe: I got an agent in the past week to deal directly with the press. It takes the pressure off me.

Jolie Nevin and Shannon Nevin at John Joe’s homecoming.

Where did you get the idea for the ‘Mullingar Shuffle’? John Joe: It just came out of the blue. I came up with it when I was being cocky about winning one day. Children are inspired to box now after watching you. How does that make you feel and would you have any advice for them going forward in their boxing careers? John Joe: That shows I must be doing something right. Train hard and some day you’ll get there. Never give up. Be yourself. Keep training and you got to have self-belief. You must believe that you can go all the way to the top. 12

The Loran family at John Joe’s homecoming in Cusack Park.

Mullingar gives John Joe a Hero’s Welcome As everyone is aware John Joe Nevin is our boxing hero but what did the people of his home town of Mullingar think about his homecoming on August 13th and his fights at the Olympics in London? I decided to go and find out. On our arrival at Mullingar town for the homecoming celebrations Mairéad Ní Chaoimh and I we were amazed to see the sheer number of people on the streets to welcome home our Olympic medallists. Supporters came from other towns and villages to see their local stars as he arrived on an open deck bus. John Joe and fellow Olympic winner Joseph Murphy arrived at Cusack Park GAA

pitch in Mullingar and were greeted by their fans, estimated to be between 5,000 and 6,000. The atmosphere was electric and the sound of cheering overwhelming as both men made their way to the centre stage. We asked people from the cheering crowds what they thought of John Joe’s fights throughout the Olympics. They said he was fantastic, that he fought a good fight throughout the whole competition and that he did both Mullingar and Ireland proud. Others said John Joe was an inspiration to their children and that they hoped all the best for him in the future. Anyone we spoke to thought the turnout was fantastic and

deserving of the local duo. John Joe’s cousin Christy Nevin was among the crowd and when asked to sum up his cousin’s success he said, “John Joe had it in him for years to do us proud like he has. We had no doubt he was going to be great and that’s what he was. He’s a champ now and will always be; we couldn’t be prouder of John Joe”. It was an electrifying night with a phenomenal atmosphere. Local councillors, the event organisers and Gardaí were all great and gave the boys a night they won’t forget and a welcome home party that will stay with both Olympians for a very long time to come. Tracie Joyce, Midlands Regional Reporter

Pat Whelan, Johnny Penrose, Gerry Sheridan

The Nevin family.

Christy, Michael and Hughie Nevin

The famous ‘Mullingar Shuffle’.


The Real King of the Travellers

King of the Travellers, a new film to be aired on Irish television, is a story grounded in the traditions of the Irish Traveller community and driven by themes such as love, betrayal, friendship and revenge. The film is about how the main character, John-Paul Moorehouse, deals with his consuming passion for justice versus his desire to be with the woman he loves.


The film, which features Traveller scenes of bare knuckle fighting, weddings and campfires, was shot in various locations including Tallaght, Rathfarnham, Blessington, Kilconnell and Ballinasloe. The film’s director Mark O’Connor and producer Cormac Fox took the time to talk to VOTM about their film. O’Connor spent months researching his subject and to make the film as authentic as possible he cast 95% of Travellers to play Travellers. “It was a long process as it’s not easy doing a film with all non-actors, but it had to be a realistic portrayal of the community,” he said. He worked closely with playwright and actor Michael Collins, and met many Travellers and attended weddings. He feels that there have been many negative misrepresentations of Travellers in film and TV such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Snatch and Trojan Eddie. He did not set out to portray Travellers in any particular way in the film. “The story came first and there’s good and bad shown in the Traveller community and also in the settled community. It was all about the characters.”

I asked him why he decided to write a film about Travellers. He told me that when he was 15 years old he was beaten up by Travellers, resulting in him having to get 8 stitches. “I ended up fighting the brother of the lad who hit me. I was impressed how the brother wanted a fair

Director Mark O’Connor

fight and shook my hand afterwards,” recalled O’Connor. He said that he received plenty of ignorant comments while making the film. “It made me realise there are a lot of people out there who have this ignorance. Most have never even chatted with a Traveller.” O’Connor was drawn to making a Traveller film because he is attracted to Irish stories. “And Travellers are the real Irish,” he said. “Working with Travellers was an absolute pleasure. They’re my kind of people. They think with their hearts and say how they feel. There is no passive aggressive double meaning with them. They also have a deep connection with the earth”, he commented. The film premiere took place at the Galway Film Fleadh in July. It was sold out and received a great reception. Traveller songs were sung as the audience took their seats. The filmmakers are hoping that it will get a limited cinema release. And after that, it will be screened on TV3 as part of the channel’s autumn/winter schedule. By Mairéad Ní Chaoimh, Editor

A fight scene from the film. 15

Biddy Kavanagh, Michaela McDonough, Celine McInerney, Nicole Ward, Chloe McInerney, Sammy Joe Ward, Johnny Kiely, Jordan McDonough of Offaly School Transfer.

A First For First Year Students in Offaly Offaly Local Development Company in conjunction with Offaly Traveller Movement have organised a summer programme specifically for young Travellers who are transferring to secondary school this September. This is the first time such a programme has been delivered to Travellers in Offaly. The summer camp consisted of a four-day programme which included art and crafts, drama and cookery and ended with a trip to Birr Outdoor Pursuits. The children covered a number of topics to help prepare them for the move to secondary school. They learned about the differences between primary and secondary school and the new responsibilities associated with these changes and the importance of attending school every day. They also learned about extra-curricular activities, timetables and how to be organised. The children spoke about bullying and how to ask for help, school rules, support systems in schools and the role of teachers. On the third day Gary Ward, who completed his Leaving Cert in June, came and spoke to the group. As a member of the Traveller community himself, Gary shared his experiences and thoughts on how to be successful in secondary school. Sarah Behan of OLDC who delivered the programme commented: “Gary had a very powerful influence on the group and is such a positive role model.” She added: “As this was the first year of this programme we had a small group attending but next year we will be informing families earlier and hope to have more children 16

taking part.” Participant Sammy-Joe Ward said: “I thought the summer camp was excellent because it was fun.” Michaela McDonagh added: “I thought it was good because you got to learn more about school. I learned not to be shy, to ask for help and that you have to listen and it’s important to participate.”  The idea for the programme originated from OLDC’S interagency group FED. The Mid Offaly Forum on Educational Disadvantage (FED) is a network of professionals

working with people who are at risk of educational disadvantage. The priority action for 2012 is transfer and retention in primary and post-primary school. The Offaly County Childcare Committee, School Completion Programme and NEWB, some of the agencies represented on FED, also contributed to the summer programme. The programme was also supported by OTM Youth Worker Celine McInerney, Biddy Kavanagh and Primary Health Care Worker Sarah Kavanagh.

The Lads: Johnny Kiely and Jordan McDonough.


The Next Step It is that time of year again when the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. School bags and lunches are at the ready! Children are back to school, after a summer with very little sunshine and a lot of rain that kept kids indoors and parents at the end of their tether trying to keep them occupied. For some this time of year could not have come too soon. It is a time for parents to get a well deserved break from the chaos and noise that every child seems to thrive on. I caught up with Tomas Mulpeter who has just started secondary school at Rice College in Ennis. I asked Tomas how he felt about starting secondary school. Was he excited or nervous? What were the pros and cons and did he feel prepared? Tomas explained to me that he felt prepared going into Rice College. He said that last May all the new first year students were called in for the day

to be shown the school layout and explained where each class they’d be attending was located. “I was not really nervous as I had gone to primary school with the majority of the students starting first year and knew practically everyone,” he said. Tomas, a typical teenager said that going to secondary school was just “the next step” and knew it was something that was just going to happen. I asked did he have any favourite subjects he was looking forward to. He said that although woodwork and technical drawing are the areas he would most like they didn’t have much choice with their subjects until second year. As for the pros and cons, he just laughed and said, “That’s easy. The pros are longer holidays and the cons are more homework!” Ann Marie Sherlock Bryan, Regional Reporter

Thomas Mulpeter 17

Travellers Take Pride

The official launch of Traveller Pride Week was held in Dublin’s Mansion House. The weeklong event was launched by Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague and included speeches from Traveller Olympian John Joe Nevin, Pavee Point’s Martin Collins and Bridget Quilligan from the Irish Traveller Movement. Mayor Andrew Montague spoke of how he felt honoured to be part of the opening ceremony and went on to say: “Travellers have been an integral part of Irish life and the life of this city and this week we can show our solidarity and respect for their culture and traditions. Intergenerational solidarity is part of pride and how the Traveller culture survives.” Speaking at the event Bridget Quilligan from ITM spoke about the importance of Travellers being recognised as an ethnic minority and how she dreamed of a future where Travellers didn’t fear discrimination because of their Traveller status. Traveller Pride Week was led this year by Pavee Point; its Director Martin Collins said: “This week will showcase the best of the Traveller community – all across the country Travellers and Traveller organisations have allied with local interagency groups, other NGO’s and one another to tell the world of the important

and valuable work they’re doing.” The aim of Traveller Pride Week is to celebrate the positive contributions of the Traveller community to Irish society and has been a calendar highlight for both Traveller organisations and individuals throughout the country since it began in 2011 as Traveller Focus Week. Various Traveller groups around the country showcased their crafts, talents and culture to the wider settled community; these included stage dramas, concerts, cultural awareness events and displays featuring traditional Traveller accommodation. Traveller Pride Week was organised by Traveller organisations including ITM, Minceirs Whiden, Exchange House, Involve, the National Traveller Money Advice and Budgeting Service and the Parish of Travelling Community to name but a few, and took place in June 2012. Michael Power, Regional Reporter Photos: Laura Greene

Nellie, Missy, Bridgie and Biddy Collins 18

Christy McDonagh

Bridget Quilligan, Irish Traveller Movement

Awarding Educational Achievements in Roscommon

The atmosphere was great in Gleeson’s Townhouse in Roscommon on my recent visit for an educational achievement awards ceremony. There were many recognisable faces there such as former TD Mary O’ Rourke and Roscommon town’s own Mayor Eugene Murphy amongst others. As the awards began Mayor Eugene Murphy gave a delightful speech to everyone involved. He started by welcoming and thanking everyone for coming and spoke about how members of the Roscommon Traveller Interagency Group thought it was a good idea to host the awards during Traveller Pride Week as the READ Centre was closing in June. The Mayor went on to talk about the great work that has been done throughout the years at the READ Centre both by present and past pupils. He said: “Traveller Pride Week is an

important event for the Traveller Community and has many dimensions. It is about educating the general public on Traveller issues, seeking to dispel the misinformation about Travellers that is widespread among the settled community, encouraging the media to give more space to Traveller issues and most importantly celebrating Traveller culture.” Murphy ended his speech by thanking Bernie Downes and all staff in the READ Centre and Anita Kenny of the Community and Enterprise Dept in Roscommon County Council for organising the event. He congratulated each student on their outstanding achievements at the READ Centre. After the Mayor’s speech had finished, the awards were given out individually to each student by Mary O’Rourke. By Tracie Joyce, Regional Reporter

Mary O’Rourke at the awards ceremony

Galway Traveller Movement Event Highlights Traveller Women Entrepreneurs Photos: Margaret Carr

Kayleigh Ward, Jane Ward, Ciaran Cannon,Ann McDonagh,Nora Ward,Cllr Peter Roche Singer Kayleigh Ward

Ellen Carr with dressmaker Ann McDonagh 19

Longford’s Non Profit Restaurant Longford EDI Centre, located on the outskirts of Longford town, provides a range of education and support services to unemployed people. Programmes include furniture restoration, catering and hospitality, job seeking skills, IT, and traditional building skills. The centre responds to the local needs of the underemployed or early school leavers and offers them the chance to qualify in any of the above courses. The EDI Centre is run by Brida Greaves and Helen Masterson. The women, along with 16 participants, run a very successful restaurant which opened in August 2011 for six months and continued on for another six months as they had been doing so well. There is a mix of Travellers and settled people on the course. This is a good way of getting both communities to integrate and work together in a community workplace.

This year Involve Youth Project Navan took a group of young people on their first overnight trip to Carlingford Adventure Centre in Co Louth. The group took part in a wide variety of activities including laser combat, an obstacle course, a high ropes challenge, pier jumping, kayaking and zorbing. According to Kay McKay, Youthwork Co-ordinator: “We were a weary but very happy group when Michael McDonagh pulled up in the minibus to collect us. Carlingford Centre staff sent us an email saying we were a pleasure to work with and that we made their jobs easy. We are all very proud of our group and would not hesitate in bringing them away again, but maybe with no high ropes this time!” 20

The catering team at Longford EDI busy at work. When VOTM visited the EDI Centre we were amazed by the work that was going on there and also the facilities that they provide for the people of Longford town. They provide many services in their restaurant including affordable meals and refreshments. The restaurant opens from 9am to 3pm Monday to Thursday and it is a non-profit operation. Any profits generated are given back to the restaurant. The trainees also complete a two-week work experience placement to help them complete the module. After all modules are completed they qualify for a FETAC Level 5 Certificate.When the team

from VOTM went to visit the EDI Centre we were delighted to see the response the programme had received from locals. “They have a good response like this nearly every day,” explained Helen. “The group enjoy working here. They only charge a small amount of money for the food and beverages and don’t make a profit on what they sell. They only want to make enough money to keep the restaurant open. After their six months are over they will then re-apply to open the restaurant again and start again from there,” she said. Tracie Joyce, Midlands Regional Reporter

Ready for Action! at the Carlingford Adventure Centre

Longford Special

Longford Quality of Life The main aim of a Longford based health initiative is to improve the health and quality of life for Travellers living in Co Longford. The initiative, called the Co Longford Primary Health Care Project (PHCP), was set up in 2003 and employs trained community health workers from the Travelling community.

Caroline Stokes, Mary Nevin, Winnie Stokes, Annmarie Nevin, Bridgie Power and Mary Stokes. The initiatives that are delivered as part of the programme include child safety awareness training, cancer prevention and intervention, mental health awareness and fire safety. Other programmes deal with substance misuse, nutrition, first aid, antenatal and postnatal care, a men’s sports project and a ‘Men’s Shed’. The PHCP team employs a coordinator, a project worker, a Traveller men’s worker and seven community health workers. This team work closely with staff at Longford Community Resources Ltd and HSE Midlands. I met with PHCP coordinator Frances Swaray and Traveller Men’s Worker Tony Owens at a recent Open Day at their premises in Longford town. Tony showed us the room where the men were based. He explained that the group was known as the ‘Men’s Shed Project’ and they worked on gardening,

woodwork and metalwork. The group is made up of 8 men, including six brothers and their two nephews. They attend the men’s Shed on a weekly basis and are hoping for more members to join. The community health workers were all present at the Open Day and told me that when they originally started their work there were 16 primary health care workers but now there are only seven of them. They are hoping to get more women involved. Some of the services they provide include giving health information to Travellers, providing support and advice on family health, screening such as cervical, bowel and testicular. They help Travellers fill out forms when necessary, make and keep their appointments, and make referrals to other agencies. The community health workers are here for all Traveller Longford families. By Tracie Joyce, Midlands Reporter

Elisa Cerralio at Longford Open day. 21

Traveller Liaison Post Returned The post of Traveller Liaison Officer at Tralee IT has been reinstated. The position had been withdrawn earlier in the summer, but funding has since been secured and Christina Boland returned to her job in September.

“I am truly delighted to be back as I thought the funding for my job was gone. Due to the different organisations here in Kerry and the importance of the job in hand, it just had to be kept. I look forward to the hard work over the next term, and most of all keeping VOTM informed about anything that is happening here at IT Tralee,” said Christina. Her importance in the Travelling community is valued highly and she has a great role to play among young people in secondary schools. She is a great voice for Travellers and is engaged with all parts of the community. Christina is available to offer confidential advice and support to Traveller students in the college. She also works in the community

Christina Boland, Traveller Liaison Officer, Tralee IT

to encourage Travellers to apply to IT Tralee. She explains that since the government cut back on the numbers of Traveller visiting teachers, her job got harder and her list of duties grew. She works hard with young people at secondary school to help them engage with college life and show them what opportunities are out there. The students have the ability to go on and do anything they wish, as we have seen firsthand at Tralee IT. Last year a cookery course was run for mature students and they achieved great marks. “They really come in high numbers here from all over secondary schools in Kerry and we also hold a Travellers Day and invite Travellers from all over Kerry to attend. It is really great for the students to see and hear first-hand what is on offer here and what they could gain from doing a wide choice of courses here,” said Christina. By Marguerite McCarthy, Regional Reporter

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Remain true to your beliefs this month; it’s OK to say no when you’re not comfortable. A friend from the past will show you how to make those small tweaks for personal success.


An upcoming challenge will bring you much closer to a relative you haven’t spoke to in a while. Remain calm and enjoy rising above a stressful situation.


This is an ideal time to begin that evening course you were thinking about. Your hidden talents will shine and make you some extra income over the next couple of months!


It’s been a stressful year so far but be prepared for an amazing change soon. A syndicate between close friends could prove very lucky in the short term.

• Children’s Play Area • Toddler’s Den • Cafe • Inflatable Play • Bungee Trampolines • Mega Slides • Internet Cafe • Pool & Air Hockey Tables • Various sized Party Rooms • Lots more party extras We cater for Mother & Toddler Groups, parties of all sizes, private functions, playschools, creches and summer camps!


You know these petty arguments with a loved one are making none of you happy; focus on your similarities not differences. An unexpected call brings back good memories.


It’s time to cheer on ‘Team You’; your success so far this year has been great but there’s more to come. Luck brings you to a red door this month.


A shock family announcement this month will clear some issues that have been playing on your mind. Catch up with old friends to find out some great news.


The welcoming of a new family member will be great when it comes to mending an old family feud. Someone with cold hands this month will prove lucky for you.


Don’t pay too much heed to gossip on social media over this next couple of months. Make your own mind up and reap the rewards of a great new friendship.


Your knight in shining armour might turn out to be an acquaintance you’ve never really noticed before. An upcoming gathering will be your chance to shine.


It’s time to revisit that promise you made to yourself earlier this year. If the path is blocked use another route but stick with it to bring about a fabulous new you.


Book early to avoid disappointment!

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Donegal Special

Donegal’s First Ever All-Traveller Football Team Takes to the Field

Donegal Travellers Football Team.

John McDonagh was out on a field at the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny, County Donegal last week, playing a part not only on his local football team but also in local history. That’s because John is a member of Trav Team, the first ever all-Traveller football team in Donegal. “It’s given me something to look forward to during the week,” John, 33, said of the team, which is an initiative of the Men’s Health Project at Donegal Travellers Project. “The more you come, the more people you meet.” John’s health and fitness have also improved noticeably since he joined the team when it started last spring. “When I first came, I couldn’t run up and down the pitch for an hour or two,” the Letterkenny resident said. “Now I can run up and down the whole time, so I have gotten a lot of fitness out of it.” John’s teammate, 21-year-old Dan Mongan, said he has experienced benefits, as well. “It’s helped get me off the drink and fags,” the Letterkenny resident said. “It gets you out of the house, too.”Trav Team striker Mickey Connors, 16, said his skills are getting stronger with every practice. “I like scoring goals, and I’m striking more and more,” the Letterkenny resident said. “I run much farther, too. It’s a good fitful game.” The three men are among 17 members 24

of Trav Team, one of several all-Traveller football teams in the country. The team, which has been organised by DTP Men’s Health Project Co-ordinators Hugh Friel and Patrick McGinley, conducts weekly two-hour practices and has also begun competing with other teams in the area. “We’re mainly focussed on training up now, but if we get the odd friendly, we take it,” Hugh said. “We won a few last year and lost a few.” In addition to providing health benefits to participants, Hugh said, the team is giving himself and his teammates an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had in school. “Traditionally, Travellers haven’t had a chance to be part of sports teams in schools due to discrimination and isolation,” he said. “I always wanted to be on a football team at school, but I never had the opportunity. You were excluded because of who you were, rather than how good you were.” Trav Team was conceived in the wake of an All-Ireland Traveller Health Study published in autumn 2010 which found Traveller men’s life expectancy to be 15 years less than for other Irish men,

as compared to 10 years less in 1987. In addition to physical health issues, the study found the toll that discrimination and exclusion takes on the mental health of Traveller men to be implicated in the shocking life expectancy statistic. “The DTP has always run programmes promoting Traveller men’s health, including walking clubs, swimming, and the gym, going back 10 years ago,” Hugh said. “Following the study, we researched group activities that Traveller men might be interested in and came up with starting this team. Playing football together has more mental health benefits than just kicking a ball around because there’s the whole social element as well. Most of the men didn’t know each other before joining the team, but now they’re all friends, taking pride in being Travellers.” In addition to building relationships among Travellers, Hugh said, the team is providing opportunities for positive relationship-building between Travellers and members of the settled community. “Active sport is known for helping to build relationships between communities,” he said. “Settled people are always hearing about Travellers through the negative media about them. Through playing football together, maybe we can build up positive relationships with one another.” By Julie Costello

John McDonagh

Dan Mongan

Donegal Special

Beoirs and Bling Newsletter Warns of Sunbed Use

Seventeen-year-old Sineeta Boyle vividly recalls a presentation on the hazards of sunbed use that she attended last year.

“We saw pictures of a young girl who went into sunbeds a number of times,” she said. “She looked like a 90-year-old granny with wrinkled skin and moles all over. It was scary, it would scare you from going to sunbeds.” The presentation, which also covered the increased risk of deadly skin cancer associated with sunbed use, made such an impression on Sineeta and other young women members of the TravTeen Youth Project at Donegal Travellers Project that they decided to do something about it. The result is ‘Beoirs and Bling’, a fourpage newsletter devoted to the topic of sunbed use by young Traveller women (or “beoirs” in the Cant language). A sunbed awareness quiz, photos showing the premature ageing that sunbed use can cause, and a vox pop in which young Traveller women have their say about sunbeds are included in the newsletter, which is a joint initiative of TravTeen and the Donegal Travellers Primary Health Care Project. “Fake it, don’t bake it!” is the main message that the young women say they hope other young Traveller women will take from ‘Beoirs and Bling’, which was launched during national Traveller Pride Week in June and is to be distributed to all Traveller families in Donegal. “Self tan is cheaper, it lasts longer, and it’s safer,” Sineeta said. “With sunbeds you know for a fact that if you use them,

Showing their ‘Beoirs and Bling’ newsletter on sunbed use are members of Donegal Travellers Project’s TravTeen Project: (L-R) Amanda Boyle, Annmarie Boyle, Sineeta Boyle, Chloe McGinley and (standing) TravTeen Youth Worker Caitriona Kelly you can have serious problems later.” TravTeen member Chloe McGinley, 13, is responsible for the beautiful page layouts and creative graphics featured in the pale pink-coloured newsletter. “The newsletter is aimed at teenage girls by teenage girls, so it’s not preachy,” said TravTeen Youth Worker Caitriona Kelly. ‘Beoirs and Bling’ stems from a Young Women’s Health Day that was held at Donegal Travellers Project last year and included a presentation on the hazards of sunbed use by advanced nurse practitioner Janice Richmond from the Oncology Department at Letterkenny General Hospital. “It’s known nationally that Travellers use sunbeds quite often,” said Ann Friel, assistant co-ordinator of the Donegal Travellers Primary Health Care Project. “Traveller girls, especially, are using sunbeds without knowing the side effects,

so we’re raising awareness of the damage that sunbeds can do.” Information contained in the newsletter includes the fact that sunbed tans are induced through concentrated exposure to high levels of UV light, a known contributor to all types of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. Children and adolescents who use sunbeds have been found to be at an especially high risk of developing skin cancer, which has led a number of countries - including England, Wales, and Scotland - to ban their use by anyone under 18. The newsletter also explains that sunbed use has been found to cause depletion of natural collagen levels in the skin, leading skin to appear prematurely aged through loss of elasticity, sagging, wrinkling, freckling, yellow discolouration, and brown patches. By Julie Costello 25

Donegal Special

Workplaces Benefit From WPP Scheme in Donegal

When Patricia McGinley visits other Travellers these days, the craic always finds its way around to coursework. As part of a six-month work placement that she is doing at Donegal VEC, Patricia is bringing information about Donegal VEC courses that Travellers might want to enrol in directly to their homes throughout the county. She is also administering a questionnaire about her hosts’ education levels and interests that can help in the design of future VEC courses and outreach strategies. “A lot of Travellers lack the confidence to come in to the VEC,” said Patricia, a Letterkenny resident who would be better known locally as “Tish”. “People in my own family are asking, “You at the VEC? What’s that like?”, but haven’t got the courage to come in. So this is giving people confidence. There’s been a very good response. They’re delighted to see you there because people in rural areas wouldn’t know what’s available.” Patricia’s work placement, which also includes administrative duties at Donegal VEC’s Letterkenny office, is providing a valuable perspective on the educational needs of the Traveller community, according to Brid McIntyre, Donegal VEC Adult Literacy Organiser. “She is giving me an insight into the difficulties people with a Travelling background would have coming back to education and an insight into what school was like for them,” Brid said. “It could end up informing VEC practice and outreach. While we do have some, we wouldn’t have a lot of resources that are reflective of the life experience of the Traveller community. There could be more to engage people’s interest.” The Traveller Work Placement Programme that Patricia and Donegal VEC are participating in is a joint initiative of Donegal Travellers Project and the HSE that has been organised in collaboration with Donegal Local Development Company. The programme is designed to be of benefit both to workers and to workplaces, according to Maeve McIvor, DLDC Traveller Job Coach. “The work placements are providing work experience which will improve participants’ CV’s and work skills while at the same time providing workplaces with people who have background skills in the area,” she said. “The placements were advertised and candidates were interviewed to ensure that those chosen were wellmatched to the positions.” Another participant in the programme, Raphoe resident Brigid Kelly, is applying her exceptional industriousness to a job serving customers and working in the kitchen at the busy Letterkenny General Hospital staff canteen. “I’m pushing her to take a break!” 26

Letterkenny General Hospital staff canteen workers: Mary Neely, Aoife Murray, LGH Dining Room Supervisor Christine Wallace, Brigid Kelly, Caroline Wilkin, Sarah McClafferty, LGH Catering Manager Mark Duffy, Pauline McCarron and Susan O’Hanlon.

Donegal VEC Adult Literacy Organiser Brid McIntyre and Patricia McGinley at the VEC’s Letterkenny office in Ard O’Donnell. said Brigid’s supervisor, LGH Dining Room Supervisor Christine Wallace. “She’s hands on and nothing’s a problem to her.” Brigid said the workplace atmosphere at the canteen is a highlight of the position for her. “Even though there’s a lot of work, there’s fun, too,” she said. “They’re really helpful when I have to ask questions. There’s a whole lot of work entailed in what you do. The temperature of everything - fridges, food, everything - has to be written up. You have to keep on top of everything.” Brigid’s contributions to the canteen extend beyond her strong performance of the job duties, according to LGH Catering Manager Mark Duffy. “To me, it’s a two-way education programme,” he said. “It’s about Brigid getting a placement and experience, but it’s also about employees having the experience of working with Brigid. We want to break down the stereotypes that are out there. I would recommend work placements like this here to other employers. You get a very good worker in for a six month period, and it also gives your staff a different viewpoint of a particular group within our community. It can only be good for society at large.” By Julie Costello

Know Your Rights Claiming Child Benefit Question: How do I apply for Child Benefit for my new baby and when will it be paid?

Volunteer Profile

Denise Skelton, Involve, Navan

Answer: When you register a birth in Ireland, the baby is given a Personal Public Service (PPS) number. The Department of Social Protection automatically starts a claim for Child Benefit if the birth is registered within three months: If you are not already getting Child Benefit for another child, the Department starts a new claim and sends you a claim form for you to sign and fill in your payment details and then send it back. If you are already getting Child Benefit, your new baby is automatically added to your existing claim and payment begins from the month after the birth. The Department will send you a letter telling you about this payment. If your child is not born in Ireland, or the birth is not registered within three months, you must fill in a Child Benefit form (CB1). Send the completed form by FREEPOST to the Child Benefit Section, Social Welfare Services, Department of Social Protection, St Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal. Lo-call: 1890 400 400. Child Benefit is paid from the month following your baby’s birth. It is paid on the first Tuesday of every month. If there is any delay in processing your application the payment will be backdated to when you first applied. If you apply more than a year after your baby’s birth the payment may be backdated if you have a good reason for the late application.

Child Benefit Rates 2012 Family size

Monthly rate

One child


Two children


Three children €428 Four children


Five children


Six children


Seven children


Eight children


Know Your Rights has been compiled by Colette Tuohy, Westmeath Traveller Project. Colette helps Travellers with application forms, getting information around housing, health, finance and social welfare. Contact 087 6524006 Citizens Information Service St. Mary’s Square, Athlone provides a free and confidential service to the public. Information is also available online at www. and from the Citizens Information phone service on 0761 07 4000.

How did you decide to become a volunteer? Having a desire to volunteer locally I contacted Meath Partnership who got in touch with Involve Navan. Involve contacted me by phone. What did you have to do to become a volunteer? After the initial contact, I was sent out a Garda vetting form. As I volunteer with people under the age of 18 it is necessary. This is the lengthiest part as Garda vetting can take up to a few months. Once the group received the forms I was contacted and interviewed by the youth work co-ordinator and then I started volunteering. What experience did you need to become a volunteer? You need to be fun-loving, fair and a good listener. You must be able to work with groups and communicate clearly. Did you receive any training with Involve Youth Projects? I received youth leader training as part of the summer camp in July. Were you clear about your role in the youth project? Yes, everything was explained very well. Did the workers help you do your job as a volunteer? Yes, they are very helpful, friendly and resourceful. Did you find cultural difference a barrier to you becoming interested in volunteering? No, not at all. Would you recommend others to volunteer with Involve Youth Service? Definitely, the people that you volunteer with are great fun.  How has being a volunteer benefitted you? It gives you experience in a supervisory role as well as showing that you are able to work with people of all ages. You can strengthen your communication and tutoring skills. For example, every week I show the kids different arts and crafts. Working with a group of about 12, I am able to explain what’s involved. If they have any questions I listen and help them. These are vital qualities for any position. I was unfamiliar with a lot of the traditions of Travellers and having spent more time with them I am more aware that people are really not so different. It has made me more open minded.  What is your favourite aspect of being a volunteer? Having ‘the craic’ with the kids and seeing everyone enjoy themselves. What is the most challenging aspect of being a volunteer? Well, for me, I haven’t found it that challenging. They’re a great bunch who show a real love for what they do which makes working with them delightful. 27

Helping Hand for Westmeath Travellers Westmeath Traveller Project, made up of Colette Tuohy, Christine Joyce, Caroline Nevin and their manager Linda Jo McCormack, is based in Parnell Square in Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Collette Touhy

Colette Tuohy, Community Worker, Westmeath Traveller Project I am employed as a Community Development Worker for Travellers in Westmeath since 2010. My work involves helping Travellers with problems they are having with housing, social welfare, medical cards etc. I also help Travellers to get involved in meetings and try to help communications between the County Council, HSE, Gardaí, VEC and any other agency that works with Travellers. I work closely with the Irish Traveller Movement and have met a lot of other people (settled and Travellers) working with Travellers around the country. I work with Blackberry Lane Women’s Group in Athlone. The women recently received €1,000 from the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Ireland and are running a 10-week Women Against Violence programme. The group meet every Wednesday evening and begin with a guest speaker discussing mental health, stress or conflict mediation. This is followed by some arts and crafts work, cookery skills or health and wellbeing. The group are now working on some 3D photography. The residents of Blackberry Lane got €9,010 from the VEC Young People’s Facilities Services Fund in 2011 and have refurbished Blackberry Lane Community Centre. 28

The aim of this group is to provide support to the Traveller community by helping with housing, accommodation, health and welfare issues. The women focus on different areas but at times come together and help each other. The Westmeath Traveller Project has been in Athlone for many years now and run successful programmes to help the Traveller community. The group have also brought out their own newsletter to make the Traveller community aware of their existence and what they do. The women concentrate on all of Co. Westmeath

Christine Joyce, Community Worker, Westmeath Traveller Development I’ve been employed by Westmeath Traveller Project for the past two years. I assist the Travelling community in the area of health. I assist with health and related issues such as applying for a medical card, dates for BCG injections, personal care and presentations, medical forms etc. I also facilitate a number of different groups such as Women against Violence. This is a group in Mullingar who meet weekly and talk about any issues they might be having or provide information on the area of Women against Violence. I facilitate a boys group and a girls group in Mullingar. At the girls group they meet up weekly and decide on future activities such as cooking, decorating, writing, day trips etc. I enjoy my work and my only hope is that the weekly groups progress and get bigger so it allows the Travellers in the community to get out for a while and do things that they are interested in. I am pleased with progress to date and I believe it will be an ongoing success. Christine Joyce

and include home visits if required. The women also work together with other information centres such as Citizens Information and the HSE to ensure they get accurate information when helping the Traveller Community. The women are also involved with other Traveller projects and they coordinate weekly groups which include Blackberry Lane Women’s group, Grange Youth Club and many more. They work very hard to make sure the programme is successful and that best practice is applied. Tracie Joyce, Midlands Regional Reporter

Caroline Nevin

Caroline Nevin, Community Worker, Westmeath Traveller Project I am employed as a community worker for the past two years. My job is to work with Travellers on all aspects of education. I can help parents enrol their child in a new school or source information for them on parent teacher meetings etc. I support the parent and child if they need to go into a school and meet with the principal or teachers for any reason as some parents are not very comfortable going there alone. I am here to help Travellers if they need me and if needed I help with home tuition for parents whose children are being home schooled. I also link in with the Westmeath Education Officer when required to do so and assist their work. I facilitate a weekly group in Michael’s Park and co-facilitate a group in Mullingar called Women against Violence. The work I do not only benefits Travellers but also gives me the opportunity to learn. I really enjoy working for Westmeath Traveller Project; I hope to continue giving my services to the Travelling community and I hope they benefit as much as I do. I am looking forward to watching the group I work with in Mullingar make progress.

Young Travellers Meet Michael D

Members of Irish youth organisations including Involve received an invitation from President Michael D Higgins and his wife to have tea at Áras an Uachtaráin this summer. A small group from the Salthill Youth Project and myself attended a garden party where we met the President, which we were all very honoured to do.

President Michael D. Higgins with the band Keywest. On arrival at the Áras we were allowed to look at the different statues and the gardens as we waited to meet the President. When we greeted President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina we announced we were from Involve and briefly had our photo taken before we continued to tour the residence. We were each given a menu, an agenda for entertainment and a guide to the speeches that would be made. After we had some appetizers we headed to the marquee where they were serving drinks and the music began. After a number of bands and solo artists had played we then waited for the President and Sabina to enter. As they did everyone stood to applaud. We then were seated as the President stood to deliver his speech. Michael D welcomed and thanked everyone for coming. He went on to tell us that the focus of the garden party was to celebrate the contribution made by young Irish people to Irish society. The party was held as part of his Being Young and Irish consultation process which will culminate in a Presidency seminar later this year. “I hope the day is enjoyable and filled with friendship and laughter, and provides an opportunity to meet new friends and develop new possibilities for the future,” he said. The President

explained that the day was about acknowledging and valuing the energy, creativity and enthusiasm that young people can bring to the transformation of Ireland. “Change is inevitable and conscious involvement in directing change is empowering and very different from drifting with change,” he said. After the speeches were made we gathered as the bands played again and were offered a tour of the Áras. As

Tracie Joyce & Linda Delaney pictured outside the Áras

Christy Delaney, Ann O Gorman and Linda Delaney of Salthill Youth Project we walked through the house we saw portraits of all past Presidents and more sculptures and paintings. On our return from Dublin Louise and Christy Delaney from the Salthill project set about writing down their thoughts of the day and how they found their experience of meeting the President. Here’s what they said: “It was an experience of a lifetime. We met up with two staff members from Involve (Tracie Joyce and Linda Delaney) who were great fun and we really enjoyed their company. The walk through the Phoenix Park was longer than we thought, but we eventually got to the Áras and took a tour of it. The ceilings were amazing and the paintings of the former presidents were interesting and inspiring. There were beautiful sculptures throughout the house and gardens. It was a great honour to be in a house where so many great people have visited such as Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth. Later on the President greeted us, and we made our way through to the garden party. The scenery was amazing; the food was different. The entertainment was fantastic and showed some new emerging talent such as Key West and Story Fold. It was a privilege to be invited to such an event and we really enjoyed our day.” Tracie Joyce, Midlands Regional Reporter 29

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Send your problems to Dear Annie, Voice of the Traveller, Involve, Unit 1, Monksland Retail Park, Athlone, Co. Roscommon or email them to

Spraoi Lights up Waterford Tens of thousands of people came out in force and filled the streets of Waterford City for the annual Spraoi festival this summer. They turned the streets into a carnival like atmosphere that was enjoyed by young and old and by people from all over Ireland. There was something for everyone. Spraoi, the international street arts festival, is celebrating its twentieth year and it proved to be a huge success. The events kicked off in the People’s Park in Waterford City. There were magic shows, face painting for kids and great music. It was a three-day affair that was jam-packed with entertainment and fun.

Enjoying the Spraoi festival.

A unique screening of the black and white silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame Christ in Christ Church Cathedral was a huge success. One local said it was a wonderful opportunity to see a rare film in a unique atmospheric setting. The film was accompanied by live music performed by organist Morgan Cooke. The Luminarium was also back again this year. It is a tent-like dome that has low lighting and a hippie like atmosphere. It was bigger and better than last year. Anybody who wanted to could take a bit of time out, chill and recharge. On the second evening the highlight was the Light of My Life Parade, which was held at 9pm for maximum effect. It was visually stunning. Singers and dancers were in outrageous costumes; there were illuminated greenhouses and huge blue moons which lit up the dark streets with light and colour while music from all around the world filled the air. On the final night the legendary Tuam band The Saw Doctors headlined the festival. They played a free concert in The Plaza on the Quays, playing their legendary hits including I Used to Love Her. They kept the crowd entertained and rocking for hours. There was a monster fireworks display afterwards that captured the spirit of Spraoi. It was a great end to a fantastic last night. If u missed it this year make sure to come along next August; it is an all-round lovely family fun weekend. Theresa Murphy, Reporter, Waterford

VOTM Regional Reporter Theresa Murphy with Billy and Letita Stokes and her daughters Alice and Lilly

Dickie Rocks Waterford The Tower Hotel in Waterford was packed to capacity for Dickie Rock’s sell out summer concert. He played to the delight of his devoted fans, some of whom have followed him up and down the country to every gig for over 40 years. Over 350 tickets went on sale at €20 each and there wasn’t one left on the night. The Tower was packed out with lots of old fans and some new ones, who are discovering Dickie Rock’s music through their parents. It was a lovely crowd. Dick Hayes opened the evening with a great set. Then Dickie Rock himself took to the stage and gave an energizing performance worthy of a man half his age. He played all the greats to a full house including ‘The Candy Store’. Everybody took a night off from their worries and the stress of the recession and just let loose and enjoyed themselves.   The people of Waterford and the Tower Hotel and Leisure Centre look forward to welcoming Dickie Rock back next year. He is a great performer and he openly expresses his great love for Travellers and our way of life which is always nice to hear. Theresa Murphy, Regional Reporter


Remembrances Mary B. Nevin

David ‘Dan’ Nevin A man we loved so very much, Was brought by angels to up above, We miss you so much every day, And always have you in our prayers, We won’t ever forget you our dear friend, You are with us now and until the very end. RIP David ‘Dan’ Nevin From all your family and friends


Every night and every day, We sit and think of you as we pray, Our little princess looking down, Seeing what is going on, When God took you it was the hardest day, It made no sense in any way, But we know God only takes the best, We knew that angel when we laid you to rest, Every night when we see a star, We know it’s you angel smiling from afar, And Mary B you are our life, And we tell you this every day and night, We miss and love you oh so much, But soon we’ll be back in touch, So you keep shining our baby girl, You are our life, our soul and our world. Love from all your family

Start Saving Now for Christmas Things usually go well when they are planned for. So it may seem strange for us to start talking about Christmas when we are only in September. But by making plans now, you should find it easier to get through this expensive time of the year.

In MABS, we are always encouraging people to open up a savings account, and with those accounts it is important to give yourself a goal, in other words, to be saving for something. What better thing to be saving for than Christmas. An account can be opened up with your local credit union or post office, and there is even a new basic bank account which is available in three areas of the country (New Ross, Tullamore, and Tallaght). When opening up any account you will need two things. 1. Photographic identity: Such as a driver’s licence, passport, or a form that you can get from the Gardaí known as the ML10 2. Proof of address: utility bill, household bill in your name, mobile phone bill or insurance or letter from your local authority. The key thing in saving is making sure that you are regular – if your money is coming in weekly you should decide on an amount that you can afford to put aside weekly that you will not miss and which can sit in the savings account. The other piece of advice is to put your savings in a place which isn’t immediately available. If you put the cash in the glass jar on top of the shelf in the kitchen, there will come a day when you will break into it for some reason. If the money is in the credit union or the post office it will require more of an effort to get it out. If you start putting aside €20 a week in September, by Christmas you could have over €300 saved to help you through Christmas. Also, the credit union have affordable loans available which means you still have your savings and the loan repayments are suited to you and your income. Now you can plan with these savings in mind. You can start early on planning the presents and shop around to get the best price. Only buy what you need to get through those days when the shops are closed. Often people end up buying much more food and drink than they need at this time of the year. Shops generally stay open right up to Christmas Eve and reopen on St Stephen’s Day. You will now know how much money you have to spend on Christmas, so it will be important to stick with that plan and not to spend money that you do not have saved. This should enable you to enjoy a stress free time with your family and friends at Christmas, because you’ve planned and saved for it. If you experience any difficulty opening up a savings account or if you are interested specifically in opening the basic bank account and live in those areas, please feel free to contact us. National Traveller MABS Unit 2, North Park, North Road, Finglas, Dublin 11 Tel: 07610 72230 Fax: 01 864 3456

A Fair Encounter From 6am on a mild summers morning crowds began to trickle through streets of the small picturesque town of Killorglin in Co Kerry to celebrate this year’s Puck Fair. The annual event, which dates back to 1603, has placed itself firmly on the calendar of things that are a must-do experience in Ireland. There are a number of theories about the origins of Puck Fair which involves King Puck being placed high above the crowds on a purpose built platform and celebrated in spectacular style for three days. One such theory states that as the Parliamentarians or ‘Roundheads’ as they were called pillaged villages on the foot of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks they disturbed a herd of goats on the mountain. The animals fled and the male puck broke away from the group and ran towards Killorglin. His state of exhaustion on arrival alerted the villagers of danger which gave them time to protect their families and stock. The locals decided to honour the goat with a festival which has been running ever since. Although the tradition of honouring the puck is still alive, nowadays the fair is as much about the buying and selling of horses and other livestock as it is a celebration. Stalls and vendors line the streets selling their wares and passers-by are enticed with one off bargains. Whips, saddles and other equestrian goods are popular items. In the main field chip wagons are set up alongside children’s entertainment. Other stalls sell household furniture, clothing and washable mats, which draw a large crowd of Traveller women. One lady I spoke to came from England to the fair and when asked if she’d return said, “I most definitely will. I have not been here before and it is sight to see. I will be back next year.” The 400th Puck Festival will start on August 10th 2013 and is planned to be the biggest and best yet. Marguerite McCarthy, Regional Reporter


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Voice of the Traveller Magazine Autumn 2012  
Voice of the Traveller Magazine Autumn 2012  

Issue 86