Travelling Through the Generations Showcase

Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

A unique ‘drop in’ showcase too place, in the EU Commission Offices, Dawson Street, as part of the EU Year for Intergenerational Solidarity.  The showcase was launched by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, the legendary GAA commentator and attended by many people.

The life of Irish Travellers has changed hugely within a couple of generations.  This project facilitated older and younger Travellers working together to share aspects of their lives and learn from each- others’ experiences of living in Ireland over the past 70 years.

“The young Travellers thought we were backward having match weddings however we think they’re foolish having facebook marriages-at least we knew the people we were getting in with” said Molly Collins at the launch.

Michael Collins spoke about doing his family tree and being able to go back 8 generations through the memory and knowledge of the older women he worked with. “This proves Travellers pre-dated the famine and that we didn’t just take to the roads following evictions by landlords” he said in presenting his project.

Young Travellers learned of the harsh realities of their grandparents lives and older Travellers learned that the young generation is still very proud of their culture and identity. A shelter tent was used to explore the visible differences in Travellers culture and the inside of the tent represents the invisible differences which are what is central to being a Traveller-whether you live in a tent, wagon, house or apartment you are still a Traveller.

The changing role of women was explored and the difference between being married 60 years ago and heading out to a field to pick spuds in order to put food on the table and the reality of today where young Traveller women spend months preparing for their weddings-even though the majority do not actually have ‘big fat gypsy weddings’ contrary to public perception.