The Pavee Point, Traveller Voices performance will begin with an excerpt from the play Ireland Shed a Tear written by Traveller actor and writer Michael Collins. This play was written to commemorate the first anniversary of the Carrickmines fire tragedy in 2015, which claimed the lives of ten members of the Connors and Gilbert families. Tom, a Traveller man, sees the introduction of a national fire safety audit of Traveller accommodation as an opportunity for a better life for his family. Living conditions and issues with the local council might finally be resolved. The excerpt will be performed by Michael and his son Johnny Collins.
Music will be performed by Niamh Dunne of ‘Beoga’ fame, accomplished violin player and singer, who has just released her first solo project of self-penned songs ‘Tides’. The album reflects on her life as a musician, from her traditional roots with the Traveller family The Dunne’s right up to writing with contemporary acts like Foy Vance and Ed Sheeran in recent years. Niamh will be performing with her husband Seán Óg Graham.
Rosaleen McDonagh is a playwright, poet, performer, columnist, author and member of AosDána. During this event, Rosaleen will read her poem “I Am Not Your Knacker”. Johnny Collins will also read his own poetry. James Collins is a tinsmith living in Finglas. James will demonstrate his tinsmithing skills and will also chat to Traveller women who remember the days when tinsmiths were an essential part of country life.
Michael Collins is an actor, writer and performer and has acted on stage in the Abbey, Olympia, Project Arts Centres and venues around the country. Michael played Johnny Connors in RTE’s Glenroe for over 10 years and has been in numerous films including Trojan Eddie and Man about Dog and King Of The Travellers and Stalker. Michael has written the plays “It’s a cultural thing or is it”, “Mobile”, “Worlds Apart Same Difference”, “Magpies on the Pylon” and “Ireland Shed a Tear”. Michael’s son Johnny is continuing this tradition in acting and also writes poetry.
Rosaleen McDonagh is a playwright, poet, performer, columnist, author and member of AosDána. Her most recent play “Night Shift” was performed at the Druid Theatre, Galway in 2022 in collaboration with Galway Traveller Movement and as part of Creative Ireland’s Traveller Wellbeing Through Creativity Programme. Rosaleen’s book of essays ‘Unsettled’ published in 2021 received much acclaim. Rosaleen holds a BA, two MPhils from Trinity College Dublin and a PhD from Northumbria University. She is a board member of Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre and was appointed a Human Rights Commissioner in June 2020.
Niamh Dunne comes from a long line of Traveller musicians, mostly fiddle and banjo players. They made their living from playing music at fairs, market days, busking at football matches, and were recognised as part of the social fabric of these events in Ireland. Niamh’s father, Mickey Dunne, is a piper so he sort of bucked the trend of the stringed instruments! Niamh highlights that Travellers were really important to the Irish music tradition as they kept the songs and tunes alive at a time when it wasn’t necessarily popular. That tradition continues today.
James Collins learned the tinsmithing trade from his father and is one of the few remaining tinsmiths who has had the craft handed down to him in this way. He has his workshop where he lives in Finglas, Dublin and goes to many fair days and events demonstrating tinsmithing skills. Traditionally the tinsmith was a welcome and valued visitor providing much needed goods as well as bringing news. The tinsmith carried his tools in a box called a ‘budget’ and also produced his own hand made rivets – a tradition that James continues today.
Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre is a national non-governmental organisation comprised of Travellers, Roma and members of the majority population working in partnership at national, regional, local and international levels.
Over the past thirty-five years Pavee Point has established a track record in innovative and ground-breaking work using a collective community development approach to address Traveller & Roma issues and promoting Traveller & Roma human rights.
Cultural action has always formed part of Pavee Point’s work and resourcing and celebrating Traveller identity, culture and heritage is a central element in Pavee Point’s strategy to counter discrimination and the exclusion and marginalisation of Travellers.
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