The book has been edited by Dr. Micheal O hAodha, a leading expert in Traveller studies in Ireland and lecturer in UL's Department of History, School of Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication;
Speaking at today’s launch, Mr. Heneghan said the book provides a platform from which members of the both communities can “further build on a meaningful rapport that has been strengthened by UL in recent years, and in doing so replace a genuine fear that exists in Irish society in relation of such engagement”.
He added: “It would be patronising to describe this collection as giving a voice to Travellers and incorrect to view it as an attempt to rewrite the prevailing, negative perception of the Traveller community in Ireland. What is striking about the essays by the Travellers is their stridency, a confidence that is result not of aspiration but a sense that their views are being listened to.”
Contributors to the book include Martin Ward, two-time Mayor of Tuam, Martin Collins of Pavee Point, Limerick artist Richard Hannafin who has worked members of the traveller community, and the three editors Dr. Micheal O hAodha, Mary Moriarty and John Heneghan.
According to Mr. Heneghan: “Sympathy may have motivated many in the settled community to help Travellers, but it is through interaction on the behalf of both communities that these writers demonstrate that by rolling up their sleeves and applying their skills they have been able to reduce fear and intolerance, in a practical and strategic manner. As Mary Moriarty has pointed out, fear is the greatest obstacle and must be addressed urgently.”
“More significantly, this book encourages Travellers and the settled community to acknowledge how they are viewed from each other’s perspective and consequently bridge the barriers to overcome fear and further develop their relationship. We hope that by publishing this book the key messages being promoted will go some small way towards highlighting the leadership been shown by both communities,”
The decision to publish and launch the book at UL comes in light of the fact that more than 100 members of the Traveller community have attended courses at the University during the past decade.
“The University of Limerick recognises its role in the community and declares its commitment to its hinterland in the University’s Strategic Plan. Many of the Travellers who have participated in programmes at UL have taken up leadership positions in various local and national committees. All have enriched the teaching experience of the lecturers they have met,” Mr. Heneghan concluded.
The book was supported by the Limerick County Interagency Group for Traveller Services, comprising UL, Limerick City and County Councils, HSE, County Limerick VEC, An Garda Síochána and the educational ACCESS services at the UL.
Copies of “Travellers and the Settled Community - A Shared Future” are available from selected bookshops throughout the country. For more visit www.theliffeypress.com.