Winners of Traveller Pride Awards 2024

The Annual Traveller Pride Awards had a distinct influence from the West and North of Ireland this year, with winners coming for the first time from counties Tyrone and Donegal, while civil rights activist, Bernadette McAliskey, was included as one of the guest presenters. Several individuals from Galway and Mayo were recognised this year, while the highest award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, was won by long-time campaigner and activist for Travellers’ rights, Maureen Ward from Tullamore. The Awards – whose theme this year is Hidden Voices: a celebration of those less heard – took place this morning in the Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin at which, RTÉ presenter, and producer Maia Dunphy was the MC.

Winners of the Traveller Pride Awards 2024 at the ceremony which took place at the Lighthouse Cinema Dublin, Thursday, 23rd May, 2024.
Back row L-R Pamela Culotty, Lisa and Charlene from An Tearmann, PJ Mongan, Annmarie Sweeny, Winnie Stokes, John Cawley
Front Row: Anita Ward, Francis Ward, Maia Dunphy, Maureen Ward, Nadine Cawley, Cindy Collins. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

The Awards Ceremony marks the beginning of Traveller Pride Week, and has become an important event to celebrate the achievements of the Traveller Community and to promote deeper understanding and respect between the settled and Traveller communities. Guest presenters included Shamrock Rovers footballer, Savannah McCarthy, Senator Eileen Flynn, civil rights campaigner, Bernadette McAlliskey, Maureen Kennelly Director of the Arts Council, singer Sharyn Ward, and long time Travellers’ rights activist, Dr. Thomas McCann.

The 2024 Traveller Pride Awards winners are:
Enterprise and Innovation: Aaron O’Loughlin (21, Galway)
Aaron, who left school at 15, started his business O’Loughlin’s Elegant Events 1.5 years ago at the age of 19, after learning the craft of flower arranging for events from his aunt. Within a short time he built up his business to be able to supply flowers for occasions all across Ireland and more recently to the UK. His business is continually growing and he now employs 4 people. He regularly mentors young people on entrepreneurship.

Intersectionality: Annmarie Sweeney (Galway)
Overcame extraordinary personal challenges – including prison, addiction and losing her children to care. She has now graduated from a number of college courses and owns her own home and is a founding member of the Traveller Drug Advisory Board. Annmarie spoke of her personal journey through recovery and highlighted the barriers to Traveller access to recovery services at the Citizens Assembly on Drugs Use in May 2023. She  has worked with Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre Drugs Alcohol Addiction and spoke of her delight at receiving the award:
“To be awarded the Intersectionality award makes me really proud, because it recognises that Travellers face multiple layers of challenges in life that most other people never have to, like discrimination and stigma.”

Annmarie Sweeney Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

 Sport: Nadine Cawley, 15 (Ballinasloe, Galway)
Nadine is an outstanding young footballer who is the only Traveller in her team, Ballinalsoe FC. She was presented with the award by Shamrock Rovers and Irish team player, Savannah McCarthy.

John and Nadine Cawley, Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

Culture: Misleór (Galway)
The Misleor Festival, presented by Galway Traveller Movement, is an innovative and successful arts and creativity festival that celebrates and connects nomadic people’s from around the world. Misleór – meaning ‘wanderer’ in CANT started in 2019 and is now in its 5th year and runs at the end of September.

Music: Francis Ward, 15, and Peter Mongan, 22 (Galway)
Peter Mongan and Francis Ward are two young Musicians from Galway City. They both got involved in their local Foróige youth clubs and through the GCC Music Centre in Galway Community College, they started participating in Music Generation clubs, learning guitar and new songs supported by Musician Educators.
Music Generation is a partnership programme that supports young people to engage in performance music education experiences. They have both featured on the successful music video series Draíocht by Music Generation Galway City as seen on the RTE Learn platform. In 2023 Francis and PJ, began to give back to their community by supporting more young people to engage in musical performances and small group lessons or clubs.

Francis Ward and PJ Mongan
Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

 Youth (12-18): Cindy Collins,13 (Mayo)
Cindy is a young artist and outstanding advocate for Traveller culture. She shows pride in being a Traveller through baking, art & music. She received a Certificate of Commendation from the THIS IS ART 2023 competition for a brilliant drawing of her family’s trailer site.

 Youth (18-25) John Cawley (Galway)
John has been part of Involve Youth Service for the past 15 years. He began as a youth participant and progressed to Youth Leader who actively took part in An Erasmus Plus multi cultural training which awarded him his European Youth Pass. John, as an adult now, is not only a player with Ballinasloe Town Soccer Club but he is assistant manager of the Women’s team.
John works full time locally, yet still has the time to visit current youth participants and help out with sports programmes.

Education: Pamela Cullotty (Donegal)
Pamela is a single mother of two young children, currently employed as a Family Links worker with Donegal Travellers Project. She left school after the junior certificate, but went on to complete her Leaving Certificate Applied with the help of Youthreach. She stepped away from formal education when she became a mother at a young age, but she continued to attend part time courses while attending the Donegal Travellers Project women’s programmes, where she completed courses in Intercultural Studies and Youth Work. Her participation in numerous Community Education schemes gave her a passion for community work, and to be an advocate for the Traveller Community. Pamela recently completed a part time An Cosán online Bachelor of Arts in Applied Addiction Studies and Community Development at Southeast Technological University in 2023.

Community: An Tearmann, Women’s Traveller group (Tyrone)

An Tearmann is a Women’s Traveller Group which meets to provide support about health, education, rights and recognition. This group of Traveller women had their ambitions to create a safe space in which to meet and learn together derailed by COVID and lockdown but they persisted. Fewer than 5 women to begin with agreed a morning meet up once a week in 2022. At the start, it was a simple as a place to get a cup of tea and catch up on family and community news in a safe and welcome space, but it has grown to encompass much more.

 Lifetime Achievement: Maureen Ward (Offaly)
Maureen has been a tireless advocate for the Travelling Community and human rights activist for over 40 years. She has also volunteered in countless capacities at events, activities, and for many campaigns all over the country. In her free time, Maureen provides foster care, and has even volunteered abroad at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine. Maureen is selfless. She lends a voice not only to the Travelling Community, but to those who are often overlooked in society for their age, the color of their skin, their ability levels, their country of origin, their educational backgrounds, and more. 

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability and Integration Roderic O’Gorman, who opened the Awards ceremony said:
“Traveller Pride Week is a wonderful opportunity for younger and older generations of Traveller and settled communities to come together and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Traveller Community and their positive contribution to Irish society. It is important that Traveller culture is supported and valued within Irish society, and that hidden voices have the opportunity to be amplified through celebrations such as Traveller Pride Week.”

Speaking at the Awards ceremony, Michael Power, one of the organisers of Traveller Pride Week and the Awards, explained their significance to the Traveller community and the importance of this year’s theme.
“Traveller Pride Week is an important means of promoting visibility, advocacy, empowerment and cultural preservation within the Traveller community. The celebrations which occur during Traveller Pride Week, including the Traveller Pride Awards, help foster a greater understanding of the Traveller Community and aim to increase acceptance in society as a whole.”

Winnie Stokes accepts Arts and Culture Award for Misleor Festival of Nomadic Cultures from Arts Council CEO Maureen Kennelly.


Pamela Culloty accepts Education Award from Dr. Thomas McCann
Nadine Cawley accepts the Sport Award from Shamrock Rovers footballer Savannah McCarthy
Anne Marie Sweeney accepts the Intersectionality Award from Senator Eileen Flynn.
Cindy Collins accepts the Youth Award from Aideen Howard Director of The Ark Dublin
John Cawley accepts the Youth Award from Alison Fox of the National Youth Council of Ireland
Lisa and Charlene from An Tearmann, Traveller Women’s Group accept the Community Award from Civil Rights Activist Bernadette McAlliskey.
Maureen Ward accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award from Catherine Joyce, Director of Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group.