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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.