University of Galway celebrates Irish Traveller Ethnicity Week

Tinsmith Tom McDonnell from Dublin at University of Galway for Traveller Ethnicity Day. Photo by Aengus McMahon.

Tinsmith Tom McDonnell from Dublin at University of Galway for Traveller Ethnicity Day. Photo by Aengus McMahon.

University of Galway has announced plans to celebrate Irish Traveller Ethnicity Week with a week-long series of events across campus.

Irish Traveller Ethnicity Week marks the anniversary of Irish Travellers gaining ethic status and celebrates their culture and heritage including music, craft traditions and language.

The week-long series of events starts on Monday February 27 and runs to Friday March 1 - marking the anniversary of the Government formally recognising Irish Travellers as a distinct ethnic group and celebrating their culture and heritage including music, craft traditions and language.

The University is hosting a range of panel discussions, workshops and cultural exhibitions throughout the week, with a variety of opportunities for staff, students and the public to learn more about Irish Traveller culture, overcoming adversity in education and the experiences of Leaving Certificate students as members of the Irish Traveller community.

Mary Warde Moriarty (Doctor of Laws (LLD ) ), a traveller, human rights activist, who recently received an honorary degree from University of Galway will officially open this year’s series of events on Monday February 26 at 11am, The View, Áras na Mac Léinn.

Highlights from the programme of events include:

The Michael McDonagh Award - will be presented at the opening ceremony to a staff member who has shown leadership in promoting Irish Traveller History & Culture, promoting the full participation of Irish Travellers in education and advancement of Irish Traveller human rights.Traveller Living Exhibition - The exhibition showcases the rich cultural heritage of Irish Traveller life in the 1950s. A fully restored barrel-top wagon, a traditional tent and a working tinsmith are amongst the many features. Monday, February 26th from 10am–4.30pm, Áras na Mac Léinn.Traveller Education and Anti-racism - Dr Hannagh McGinley, a member of the Irish Traveller community, will talk about her journey through education and working life. After completing a BA in English and Philosophy and H Dip and MA in Community Development, Hannagh went on to be awarded a doctorate at University of Galway. Dr McGinley’s research expertise is Irish Traveller education, anti-racism, culturally responsive and intercultural approaches to education. Monday, February 26th from 3pm–4pm, THB-G010 Hardiman Research Building.Galway Traveller Movement - A document titled Going for our dreams in a racist society will be on display, which shares stories of five Leaving Certificate students and their school experiences as members of the Irish Traveller Community. Tuesday February 27th from 11am–12pm, THB-G010 Hardiman Research Building.Story Telling and Music – Trish Reilly, an Irish Traveller activist and singer-songwriter, inspired by her heritage and strong family musical tradition, will perform songs and tell a few stories. Wednesday, February 28th from 3pm–4pm, The Space, Áras na Mac Léinn.Mincéirs Whiden Society, Coffee Morning – Join members of the Minceiir (Irish Traveller ) Students Society over a cup of a coffee as they share their stories. Thursday, 29th February from 10am-12pm Meeting Room 2, Áras na Mac Leinn.Traveller History and Culture – Anne Marie Stokes, Traveller Education Officer at University of Galway will discuss the history of Irish Travellers. Friday March 1 from 10:30am –11:30am, The Space, Áras na Mac Léinn.The week will also see a series of events being held to highlight the supports available to students, including sessions on the University of Sanctuary programme and information on pathways into and through education.

Dr Helen Maher, Vice-President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at University of Galway, said each year the Irish Traveller Ethnicity Week at the University marks its commitment to openness, diversity and inclusion as it builds and strengthens connections with the wider community.

“We welcome and encourage all students, including Irish Traveller students, to seize the opportunities that education offers and that this week brings.

“Our University is open to all and works to ensure equality for all our students by providing supports to overcome barriers and establish a sense of belonging and the week-long celebration of Irish Traveller ethnicity affords us the opportunity to reflect on where we have come from on that journey and where we should look to as a community,” she said.

Imelda Byrne, Head of University of Galway’s Access Centre, said the Access Centre is proud to host University of Galway’s Irish Traveller Ethnicity Week activities and to collaborate with students, the Office of the Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, and Irish Traveller Organisations in the region.

“Year on year we see the progress that is being made to increase the diversity of our student population and the increased commitment to providing supports, resources, and a welcoming sense of community to ensure that all of our students, including Irish Traveller students, have an equal opportunity to participate and succeed,” she added.

The week’s events are organised by University of Galway’s Access Centre, in collaboration with Irish Traveller Organisations, local schools, Minceirs Whiden Society, Galway Traveller Movement and Cell Explorers.


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