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Maggie May's Day- A Collaboration between Cork County Library & Travellers North Cork (TNC) Rachel Burke

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This project is an excellent example of libraries engaging meaningfully with different ethnic groups, developing and strengthening relationships between the library service and the Travelling community. In 2018 Cork County Library collaborated with Traveller’s North Cork (T.N.C.) and Dr. Nicola Bessel, Department of Speech and Hearing Science U.C.C. to produce a book called Maggie May’s Day.

In 2017 the Children’s Librarian Rachel Burke met with T.N.C. who were keen to undertake a piece of written work, suitable for young children.

The dearth of Children’s literature with which a traveller child can identify has always been an issue for parents, librarians and teachers.

It was also timely to include cant language given the formal recognition for Travellers as a distinct ethnic group in 2017 and in advance of the 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages.

Maggie May’s Day is a day in the life of a four year old Traveller girl living in a trailer in her grandparent’s yard in Fermoy. It incorporates the Traveller Cant language as Maggie May’s life moves between the Traveller community and the settled community. It is her story, in her own words.

Her grandmother, Kathleen McDonagh provided the Cant translations for key words which were used hoping to revive the language among younger travellers. Illustrations are by Jim Mellis, Romany artist based in Fermoy.

At the book launch in Fermoy library, Maggie May’s mother Noreen read the story toMaggie May and her sister in front of an audience of settled and travelling people. Three generations of the McDonagh family were involved in the project, affording a fantastic opportunity for the library to engage with the Travelling community in North Cork.

The County Childcare Committee distributed the book to preschools in North Cork. Funding was from Creative Ireland, UCC Plus and T.N.C.

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Maggie May's Day- A Collaboration between Cork County Library & Travellers North Cork (TNC) Rachel Burke

  1. 1. Maggie May’s Daypresented by Rachel Burke A Collaborative Project: Cork County Library Travellers North Cork (T.N.C.) U.C.C. Pauline O’Grady-Noonan, Community Health Development Worker,T.N.C . Dr. Nicola Bessel, Dept. Of Speech & Hearing Science, U.C.C. Rachel Burke, Cork County Library & Arts Service
  2. 2. In the Beginning... Cork County Library Supporting & empowering communities, inclusive spaces for all. Traveller’s Of North Cork Resourcing & celebrating Traveller identity & culture.
  3. 3. Traveller Identity Formal recognition for Travellers as a distinct Ethnic group, March 1st, 2017
  4. 4. Family Learning Values Respects diversity & values indigenous knowledge Inclusive, accessible, personalised Culturally & Linguistically sensitive A driver for change – empowering & catalyst for Lifelong Learning
  5. 5. Benefits to the Library Increases understanding of the values of support services/resources Encourages positive attitudes & further participation Engages hard-to-reach families – develops partnerships Fosters a positive, stimulating family-learning environment
  6. 6. Starting out....the project Aim - a piece of written work for young children, including the Cant language. Maggie May’s Day is the story of a day in the life of a Traveller girl. Her Grandmother constructed the story & provided the Cant translations Illustrated by Jim Mellis, a Romany Gypsy Artist from Fermoy. Book launch, Fermoy Library May 2018 Funding from Creative Ireland & U.C.C. Plus
  7. 7. The Cant Language Very old language, spoken by Travellers Also known as Gammon or Shelta (linguistic community) Some words are similar to Irish words. The number of speakers in Ireland is estimated at 6,000 Falling out of usage – ethnicity status has encouraged a revival.
  8. 8. This is Maggie May....
  9. 9. And this is her day...
  10. 10. A work in progress
  11. 11. Back at home Maggie May plays with her little dog Lily. Lily has three puppies called Lily, Dodger and Cindy. Komra ~ Dog Komog ~ Puppy https://www.corkcoco.ie/sites/default/files/2018- 06/Maggie%20May%20Ebook.pdf
  12. 12. Launch Day May 2018 Demonstrated the library as a community hub for all – settled and Travelling. Celebration of integration & inclusivity Empowering for three generations of McDonagh family Showcased the Traveller’s great storytelling heritage Maggie May’s mother Noreen read the story aloud – this was recorded and shared on T.N.C.’s social media.
  13. 13. Maggie May’s Day in the Community Initial print run of 1,000 copies Electronic version hosted on Cork County Library’s website. PDF forwarded to Cork County Childcare Committee for sharing with pre-schools in Cork County. Possibility of additional print-run to distribute to other Childcare Committees. Maggie May’s Day as a classroom/teaching resource that is Traveller-centred & child-centred
  14. 14. Travellers in the Curriculum Maggie May’s Day is being introduced as a module in the Professional Master in Education (PME) course (UCC) 40 minute module will be delivered by TCAT* tutors - TCAT is Traveller led. Traveller-centred context for use of book in education & training – developing insight into Traveller culture. Multicultural Education: making students aware of issues & challenges facing Travellers in the classroom. *Traveller Culture Awareness Training
  15. 15. Future Possibilities.... Possible interest from Mary I, Maynooth & Marino as locations for TCAT presentations PDST may look at developing resource pack U.C.C. Early Years & Childhood Studies dept exploring developing story sack with materials/artefacts around the book.
  16. 16. Thank you! www.corkcoco.ie/library rachel.burke@corkcoco.ie Cork County Library H.Q. Carrigrohane Road, Cork. 021 4546499