- 18 Nov 21
Damien Dempsey shares his thoughts and experiences as part of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism.
People should be taught about who the Travellers are. Kids should be taught their history. Travellers used to come to towns in the summer, and towns would paint their houses to welcome them. They would fix everything in the town, they would bring new songs. They were storytellers, they had all sorts of skills and would help on the farms too. Then plastics came in and ruined all of their ancient trades, and then the government tried to force them to assimilate and to be settled people, to stop them from travelling.
But the sites weren’t developed. They didn’t put in the necessary facilities, so people are living on temporary sites. If someone said to me, you can’t sing anymore, you can’t travel anymore, your livelihood is gone, and then people won’t employ you, because you’re a Traveller – what happens to you? Where do you go? We need to open society to Travellers to let them travel again, give them respect. Travellers used to keep Irish music alive.
People don’t understand the history of the Travellers in Ireland. That’s why there’s so much ignorance and hatred. Until we know our history and understand it, there will still be bigotry. We need to be taught our real history in school. There’s all this history between Irish people and Black people. When is that ever spoken about?
So when Irish people are racist, it really makes me sick... If we don’t learn from the past, we’re fucking idiots, aren’t we?
Read Part 1 of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism, in the current issue of Hot Press. Available to pick up in shops now, or to order online below:
Special thanks to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for their support in this project.