Travellers and their organisations in Ireland and the UK have met to discuss plans to create an international day to celebrate the rich heritage and culture of Irish Travellers.
“We are proposing an annual opportunity to raise awareness of the rich cultural traditions and heritage of our people,” said Mena Mongan of London Gypsies and Travellers, who is Co-Chair of the steering committee considering the plan. “We feel that a day of our own to celebrate our rich heritage could help bring us closer together as a community and help to spread pride.”
The initiative began last year, when an online survey was launched to gather opinion from Irish Travellers around the world – about whether a day of celebration should be marked, when it should be and what symbol it should have. The survey is still open at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9GLZ2FX.
“We really want to hear from people, to know whether we should push ahead with the plans,” says Mena Mongan. “Personally, I believe an international day would be a great way of protecting our culture and keeping our beliefs and way of life alive. In recent years it has become difficult to unite as a community, as laws have had their impact on our culture and nomadic lives. Some of us have also had to leave our close-knit circles. I think it’s time to come together and show our unity.”
“But other people may not feel the same way. That’s why we want people to complete our survey.”
The International Irish Traveller Day steering group met for a strategic meeting at Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre in Ireland on 16th November (pictured). It reviewed progress and responses to date from the consultation survey. Other organisations represented on the steering group include: the Irish Traveller Movement, Irish Community Care, Leeds Gate and Friends, Families and Travellers. The group will meet again in March next year to decide on next moves, and will issue an update then.