Peter McGuire, for The Irish Times wrote a piece on how Traveller history and culture should be incorporated into the school curriculum.
“The Department of Education has pledged to include Traveller culture and history on the curriculum – so what, specifically, would it look like?
Anti-Traveller racism is deeply embedded in Irish society, with research showing that 63 per cent of people would reject Travellers on the basis of their “way of life” and almost 20 per cent would deny Irish citizenship to Travellers.
Travellers are also more than 50 times more likely to leave school without a Leaving Cert.
But perhaps we fear what we do not understand? What do we actually know about Traveller culture?
Senator Colette Kelleher, who introduced the Traveller Culture and History in Education Bill, says young Travellers rarely see themselves reflected in the education system. “At the same time, the wider community have had very little opportunity to learn about the diversity and wider context of Traveller culture and history.”
Patrick McDonagh (23) is a PhD student at Trinity College, researching late medieval English imperialist history in Ireland. He is also a Traveller, but has never lived in a caravan or halting site.
“My experience is not the same as all Travellers, and my accent mostly identifies me as a Northerner. But both my parents are Travellers and I have always known about my heritage,” he says.
With a background in history, McDonagh has long been interested in the origins of the Traveller community, a topic that has been the subject of much historical and pseudoscientific speculation.
“Travellers are part of a history of nomadism in Ireland, but not all nomads have been Travellers. Travellers have a distinct language, De Gammon, and this sets us apart as indeed language does for any community.
“There is also a tradition of piping and music, tin-making and, of course, storytelling. But it is hard to learn your history if nobody is teaching it.”…………
Read the full article here.