Agencies and traveller groups from across Laois gathered in Portlaoise Parish Centre last Tuesday, June 19 for the opening of a photo exhibition showcasing the life and culture of the travelling community in Laois.
The work culminating in this exhibition was carried out by travellers who took part in photographic workshops in Mountmellick and Portlaoise to celebrate National Traveller Pride Week, which ran from June 18-26.
In congratulating the participants, Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Cllr John Bonham spoke of his own keen interest in photography. He also made reference to the sporting talents within the Travelling Community, particularly in boxing. He spoke of his pride in Laois celebrating all talents and promoting culture within our community and wished the participants well in their future endeavours.
Brigid O’Connor, Primary Healthcare Worker with Laois Travellers Action Group, spoke on behalf of the Travelling Community and thanked the participants for their hard work and for their own promotion of traveller pride in Laois.
Officially launching the exhibition, Fergal Fox, HSE Health Promotions and Chair of the Traveller Interagency Group, spoke of the particular challenges to the Travelling Community in respect of health and education and of the work that the Interagency Group does to assist in improving in these areas.
He referred to Traveller Pride Week as a way of channelling resources towards encouraging Travellers to promote their culture in new ways and helping to keep their culture alive, while engaging them in education also.
The workshops and exhibition, facilitated by Annie Holland, were funded through a Dept. of Justice and Equality scheme and assisted by a number of agencies on the Laois Traveller Interagency Group, comprising Laois VEC, Laois County Council, Laois Partnership, Laois County Childcare Committee, Dept. of Social Protection, An Garda Síochána, Laois Travellers Action Group and the HSE. This Group works collaboratively to ensure the promotion and development of Traveller education, enterprise, health and welfare in Co. Laois.
For more www.travellerprideweek.ie