Traveller Living History Celebration
The Traveller Living History Celebration was hosted by Offaly Traveller Movement with record attendance. 100 people crowded the exhibit to hear Michael Mc Donagh of TV fame speak of Traveller history and identity.
‘’I am here to cause confusion’’ he quipped. ‘’Many people, Travellers among them think that Travellers are displaced small holders from the Famine times, but history suggests that Travellers have a far older history.’’
His talk brings us back into the history of Ireland dating back before the flight of the earls, and indeed brings us back to the early settlers of Ireland. There are tantalising clues, historic references to ‘counterfeit Egyptians’ and DNA clues as shown in the programme ‘The Blood of the Travellers’ which found shared DNA lineage between bog bodies and some Travellers. The earliest known reference to Tinceir or tin worker goes back to the 1100’s. As a language, Cant, the language of Travellers, is closest to Old Irish which Michael informed us is pre-1200’s.
In a month that celebrates Traveller Pride Week and 20 years of the Lough Boora Parklands with its Mesolithic camp site it was a timely reminder that we in the Midlands all have a long and proud lineage which extends back into the mists of time. The discovery of ancient campsites at Lough Coura in Boora in the 1950’s opened up a different history of Ireland where evidence was found showing that the first people to arrive in Ireland actually explored the Midlands at the same time that settlers were setting up camps on the Antrim coast some 8000 years ago. Irish history still holds many surprises. Michael’s talk opened up many new things for consideration such as the number of Traveller men who fought for crown and harp in the different wars as well as the tantalising glimpses of a Traveller history that extends back hundreds of years into Irish life, and one which is not always known about.
Offaly Traveller Pride week event was funded by the Department of Justice & Equality and administered via Offaly County Council. The project was coordinated by Offaly Traveller Movement.
Thank you to all who came and celebrated with us.