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Traveller Pride Awards 2010

The second Traveller Pride Awards, which mark the achievements of Irish Travellers across the island of Ireland in a variety of areas will be held at a ceremony in Dublin’s Button Factory on December 2nd. The awards will be again hosted by RTÉ presenter Anne Cassin and awards will be presented in ten categories in total, including the overall Traveller Pride 2010 Award.

The aim of the awards is to celebrate Traveller achievements across the island of Ireland and the contributions that Travellers make to their own community to Irish society. The Awards also highlight some of the obstacles that exist for Travellers in Irish society.  The ultimate aim is to instil pride, increase expectations and celebrate Travellers' undoubted positive contribution to Irish life – and also the pride and determination one must have in order to succeed as a Traveller.  

This year sees awards being presented for achievement in:

  • education
  • community
  • enterprise and employment
  • youth
  • sport
  • music
  • culture
with an overall winner selected from these categories.

This year sees two new categories: an award recognising the development of innovative projects within the Traveller Community and a lifetime achievement award, recognising the achievement of Travellers who had committed over their life to bringing about positive change for Travellers in Irish society. These two new categories were introduced to showcase the innovative projects that Travellers are involved that take bold steps to promote change and positive images both within

Julie Nevin, winner of the 2009 Traveller Pride overall award said “Wining the overall Traveller Pride award last year was an overwhelming experience. I think the Pride Awards are a wonderful idea; it's a great way of recognising the hard work that Travellers have put in many different areas. The fact that the award is coming from Travellers and the national Traveller organisations makes it more special, and hopefully it will encourage other Travellers to go on to achieve many different things.”

The Traveller pride winners are recognised for their passion, commitment and hard work and that in recognising their accomplishments the Awards will hopefully inspire Travellers across the island of Ireland in other areas to continue with the work they do or to encourage other Travellers to participate in projects or activities that promote the positives of Traveller identity in Irish society.  

The Traveller Pride Awards not only aim to recognise achievement and celebrate Traveller role models within the community, but to project positive images of the Traveller community to the wider public, who are often deprived the opportunity to engage with Travellers or see the contributions that Travellers make to their own community and society at large. The Traveller Pride Awards aims to promote positive images of Travellers to counteract negative stereotyping that so often appears in mainstream media

The full list of winners and presenters of the Traveller Pride Awards 2010 is:

Education Award: Anne O Donnell from Kildare
Award presented by: Eileen Flynn, from the Supporting Travellers In College (STIC) group

Katie O’Donoghue from Cork
Award presented by: Dylan Tighe

Music Award: 
Martin Collins (Dublin)
Award presented by: Selina O'Leary (Carlow)

Enterprise Award: Laois Traveller Men's Enterprise Centre
Award presented by: Marie-Therese Martin

Youth Award:  Michelle Mc Donnell (Navan)
Award presented by: Padddy Collins (Dublin)

Sports Award: John Mongan (Galway)
Award presented by: Brian Kerr

Community Award:
  Rosaleen Mc Donagh (Dublin)
Award presented by: Chrissie O Sullivan (Cork)

Overall Traveller Pride 2010 Award: Rosaleen Mc Donagh
Award presented by: Julie Nevin

Innovative Project Award for 2010: Gay Pavee Forum
Award presented by: Michael Barron

Lifetime achievement Award: Nan Joyce
Award presented by: President of Ireland, Mary Mc Aleese.

Remarks by President McAleese at the 2010 Traveller Pride Awards, The Button Factory, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, 2nd December 2010

Back row from Left to Right: John Nevin, representing the Laois Traveller Men's Group (Enterprise Award), Martin Collins (Music Award), Mark Donahue (on behalf of Nan Joyce, Lifetime Achievement Award), Denise Mc Donnell (Youth Award), Katie O'Donoghue (Culture Award), Ann O'Donnell (Education Award)

Front Row from Left to Right:
John Mongan (Sports Award), the President Mary McAleese, Rosaleen Mc Donagh (Community Award and Overall Winner of the Traveller Pride Awards 2010)

Dia dhibh go leir a chairde,

It is a special joy to be here for the second Traveller Pride Awards and I warmly thank the Irish Traveller Movement and its Director Damien Peelo for inviting me. It is of course a double celebration, for this is also the twentieth anniversary of the Irish Traveller Movement and, more than that, today's award ceremony forms part of a week-long national showcase of Ireland's Travelling community's unique culture, heritage, way of life and language. This is also an occasion when we are reminded very powerfully of the multi-faceted contribution the Travelling community makes to the wider Irish society of which it is an important and fascinating part.

The Travelling community has had to struggle for the acceptance and inclusivity it is entitled to in an egalitarian republic of equal and free citizens, in a country whose founding fathers and mothers called on us to create a society where every child of the nation would be cherished equally. But the men, women and children of the Travelling community who tramped the roads of Ireland and many other places besides were often made to feel like outsiders in their own country. The nomadic lifestyle created its own difficulties for continuity of education, for continuity of friendships, for accessing jobs and a host of other things that tie us into parish, or neighbourhood or community. The life of the Traveller was very different from the life of most other citizens and not simply because it was generally nomadic.

Almost thirty years ago, when I interviewed Nan Joyce in her caravan, when I visited the early days of Navan Traveller project, when my dear friend John O'Connell helped set up Pavee Point, life for travelers was one massive obstacle course. Traveller children rarely went on to secondary school and the idea of them going to college seemed outside their grasp. Traveller health and life expectancy were always much more vulnerable than other citizens. Traveller women had a particularly tough time, their lives too often defined and delimited by young marriages, multiple pregnancies, domestic violence, poverty and very limited options for improvements in their life chances. Literacy problems cut many Travelers off from access to training and employment opportunities and of course for Travelers with disabilities or those who discovered they were gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered, there was not just the bias of the settled community to deal with but the attitudinal barriers within their own community.

Into such a complex and difficult life came the men and women in whose honour we gather today, for our awardees are the men and women who did not curse the darkness in their lives but chose instead to light candles of hope, of change, of determination and, thanks to their efforts, doors once closed to travelers began to open. If life is divided into doers and spectators, then the awardees here today are definitely life's doers. They will not accept the status quo if it involves injustice, if it closes down and wastes people's true potential. They set themselves an agenda of change so that they could change the odds that were stacked against them and their children. Knowing as they did the strengths of the Traveller community, knowing its proud culture, they refused to accept any form of second-class citizenship; knowing its weaknesses, they refused to accept any form of defeatism. Helen Keller who was both deaf and blind yet became an international symbol of sheer determination, was once asked if there was anything worse in life than losing one's sight. She replied 'yes, losing one's vision.'

The toughness of Traveller life could have ground down many a person but not the people we celebrate and recognise in these Traveller Pride awards. Their stories are exactly what we need to hear about at this difficult moment in Ireland's economic life. A lot of people are worried about money, jobs, uncertainty, debt. They see that we have a big mountain of negativity to climb before things improve again. Our awardees know this territory well for they have faced Everests of negativity both in the settled community and even at times within their own community but their courage never failed them because their vision never failed them. These men and women are exactly the kind of people we need right now for they are leaders, problem-solvers, the kind of people who refuse to become mere spectators when there is work to be done, mountains to be shifted so that the road ahead can be made easier for others. They are the people who are creating the Ireland of the future – a fairer place, a place where Travellers can hold proudly and openly to their Traveller identity right at the heart of the mainstream of Irish life.

We are proud of them, proud of their courage, their imagination, their spirit and their generosity. I hope that on this day they feel proud of themselves. You made change happen, you made good things happen and life for Travellers, life for Irish society will never be the same thanks to your investment of the self. By being honoured here today, you are acknowledged as crucial role models within the Traveller community and in the much wider society. Your lives can help construct in others a momentum, a self-belief and an ambition which will one day result in even greater Traveller pride. These awards are, I know, individually important to you and a much deserved form of recognition and encouragement but they are also more than that for they throw open the doors of Traveller life, invite in the rest of society and allow all of our community to see more clearly what the Traveller community is achieving by its own efforts, what remarkable changes it has undergone and what a great future it is building. A Travelling community that is strong, articulate, better educated, healthier, self-confident and proud – proud of its culture, proud of what that culture contributes to Irish life and proud of how the talents of its children are flourishing in ways that other generations only dreamed of.

I wish all of you the successful futures you deserve and I congratulate each and every one of you on your achievement.

Go raith maith agaibh go leir.

Traveller Pride Awards 2010 Culture Award Winner: Katie O Donoghue

This video clip was shown at the 2010 Traveller Pride Awards to highlight the achievement of Culture Award Winner, Katie O Donoghue. Katie's commitment to preserving and promoting Traveller culture and identity is captured in this piece.

Traveller Pride 2010: Enterprise and Employment winners Laois Traveller Men's Group

This video clip was shown at the 2010 Traveller Pride Awards to highlight the achievement of the Enterprise and Employment Award Winner, the Laois Traveller Men's Group.

The work of the Traveller men in Laois is captured in this piece and provided attendees of the awards with a flavour of some of the work the men are carrying out.