Traveller Visibility Group
25 Lower John St, Shandon, Cork, T23 YX50
The Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) is an independent, Cork-based, Traveller-led community development organisation founded by three inspiring Traveller Women: Helen Casey, Anne Burke and Chrissie O Sullivan. The three women came together in 1990 in Cork to advocate on behalf of their community which at the time were living in unofficial sites throughout the city, without basic services like water, electricity and toilets. The women felt Traveller's in Cork were invisible, not seen and certainly not heard and very important decisions about lives were being made without their knowledge or meaningful consultation. They decided to set up an organisation to respond to the needs of Travellers in Cork and call it the Traveller Visibility Group. Thirty years on the organisation has now grown and supports Travellers throughout the city and ensures our voice is heard and we are well represented in all decision making forums.
Katie O Donoghue represents TVG on the map. Katie was an amazing Traveller woman who until her death in 2020 was a rock of wisdom and support to the two Traveller organisations in Cork, TVG and the Cork Traveller Women’s Network.
TVG advocates for social justice and equality with the Cork Traveller community so that we can all live free from racism and discrimination. The organisation has been running for over 30 years and engages in advocacy work aiming to improve the lived experience of Travellers in Cork and nationally.
The TVG focuses on the social determinants of health and so focuses on issues such as accommodation, education, and employment as factors impacting on Travellers’ physical and mental health. The TVG takes a holistic, community development approach to its work, ensuring that Travellers' voices and needs are heard and responded to "Nothing about us, without us."
Image Credit: TVG and Cork Community Art Link
The TVG mural (image above) was done in collaboration with the Traveller Visibility group and Cork Community Art link. We worked closely with the community to gather symbols of our culture that would best represent us, as a community, and have great symbolic meaning.
We chose the Ethnicity Pin which has a ‘’wagon wheel’’ to represent Travellers accommodation years ago and the Harp which represents us as Irish citizens. This Pin is to mark the recognition of our ethnicity by the Taoiseach on the 1st March 2017. We also have the Trailer which again is a way of accommodation for Travellers, where they were able to travel freely from town to town to visit other family members and friends. We chose the Ray of sunshine as hope for a brighter future for our community and the next generation. There is also a symbol of a Fist and a Horseshoe which is to represent our strong resilience against discrimination, racism, our fight for human rights and our TVG logo. We also added some of our traditions such as Beady Pockets where Traveller women would sew buttons to their aprons and exchange them with other Traveller women when they meet up. Paper flower making is another cultural tradition. These were sold from house to house as a way of income. We also wanted to include some of our traditional sports and activities still active today in our community such as Bowling and Sulky racing.
Authors: Eileen O’Shea and Liz McGrath