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Galway City Museum celebrates Traveller Culture

Galway City Museum, is looking back over a decade of collaboration and partnership with the Galway Traveller Movement and the wider Traveller Community in Galway. An event at the museum on Friday 10 November will celebrate two Traveller exhibitions and the film, Free People, curated by Galway Traveller Movement, will be shown. The Museum’s key collaborative partners for their Traveller Collaboration Project – Galway City Council, Creative Ireland, Galway Traveller Movement, Mincéir Whidden and the Star Project at the Western Traveller and Intercultural Development organisation, will be in attendance on the day.

The photographic exhibition ‘Reimagining Life on the Road’ is a collection of photos over two years for the ‘Cultural Rights, Cultural Action’ projects funded by Creative Ireland as part of the Traveller Wellbeing through Creativity grant. As part of this fund, Galway Traveller Movement recreated traditional Traveller camps with interactive workshops on tin smithing, paper flowers, bread making, and beady pockets. These camps highlighted the richness of Traveller culture and the way of life which is slowly being lost to current and future generations of Travellers. “It is important to keep Traveller Culture alive and to celebrate it in a positive light, for the wellbeing of the Traveller community”, Kathleen Sweeney, Galway Traveller Movement.

In 2014 the Museum hosted an exhibition Whidden Toi: Celebrating Traveller Culture. Following this, in 2017, the Museum held a Traveller Takeover Day project in the Museum, where teenage school-going Travellers ‘took over’ the jobs of the museum professionals for one day. The day, which was a collaboration with the Kids In Schools charity, was a huge success. In 2019, the Museum hosted Traveller traditional craft workshops, with tin smithing, beady pocket and apron and paper flower events in the Museum for a Traveller Living History event. The Museum has also been an active partner in the annual Misleóir, Festival of Nomadic Peoples festival since its establishment in 2018.

Two children on a flat roof looking down and pointing.
A photograph by Tamara Eckhardt from ‘The Children of Carrowbrowne’ exhibition at Galway City Museum, 2022.

In 2022, Creative Ireland funded the development of an outdoor exhibition space at the Galway City Museum. It’s inaugural exhibition was a photographic portrait exhibit by German artist Tamara Eckhardt, The Children of Carrowbrowne, which opened during the Galway International Arts Festival. Creative Ireland also funded a photographic workshop by the artist with the children from the Carrowbrowne Halting Site.

In 2022 the Museum were awarded funding from Creative Ireland through Galway City Council, to commission a model of a Traveller Encampment.  This followed a series of collaborative consultations as part of the Museum’s Traveller Engagement Project, with the Galway Traveller Movement, Minceirs Whiden Society and the Star Project at the Western Traveller and Intercultural Development organisation. The model is now on display in the Museum foyer beside a museum case containing Traveller craft objects – such as beady pocket and apron, paper flowers and worked tin.

The Museum invited Stacey Cleary, a blind teenage Traveller student in Claregalway Community College, to handle the craft objects and based on her experience, to write the content for the Museum’s first braille label now displayed in the Traveller craft showcase.  This label is the first of its kind in any Irish museum. Stacey Cleary will also be in attendance on Friday.

Galway City Museum opens Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm. Admission is FREE!  In addition to the Traveller Culture displays other current highlights include the exhibitions, SUPERHUMAN | FORDHAONNA; A Well-Trodden Path (photos by Caitriona Dunnet); This Is The Modern; Monument; Keepers of the Gael | Caomhnóirí na nGael; Revolution in Galway, 1913-23; The Galway Hooker; The Claddagh: A Triumph of Unconscious Beauty and Sea Science.





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