Community Development throughout 2013 in St Margaret’s Traveller Community Association

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“Community Grotto and Mural” officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague on December 8th 2011

The Lord Mayor of Dublin officially opens the Community Grotto and Mural 

The Lord Mayor of Dublin and some of the residents and guests pictured in front of the Grotto

 The Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague officially opened the Community Grotto on December 8th the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The event went really well and there was a great turnout of residents from the site and officials from Dublin City Council, BRL, Local Gardai and others.

Father Val said the prayers at the grotto and then Owen McDonagh said a few words about the importance of having a peaceful space where the residents of St Margaret’s Park and  Carton Terrace and  Road can reflect and pray. He said that the Community Grotto would provide that space and he is certain that the residents will welcome this. Owen also made the point that much use was made of recycled materials in the construction of the Grotto, he referred to the fencing being constructed from the planks of wood from pallets and the paint for the walls being recycled. He thanked all the residents who worked on the construction of the Grotto Project. 

Fr Val saying the prayers at the start of the ceremony

Owen McDonagh addresses the residents and guests with one of twelve framed pictues of Saints adorning the wall in the background

Noel Breslin Development Worker and MC for the event noted that the creation of the Grotto Project involved all the groups who access St Margaret’s Traveller Community Association. The Women’s Group who attend the LTI Project in St Margaret’s carried out the research into the Saints which are a feature of the walls of the Grotto and the Women from the Primary Health Care in St Margaret’s worked on the Photographic Exhibition which featured over 110 photos taken to record the daily progress of the work being carried out in the Community Grotto. The men from the St Margaret’s Park and Carton Road and Terrace did the construction work as well as painting the mural. Noel also told the audience that plans were well ahead in forming a Grotto Maintenance Residents Association set up to oversee the upkeep of the Community Grotto.

The Lord Mayor and some of the men who worked on the Grotto Project


The Lord Mayor with some of the local Gardai pictured in front of the Mural.


The Lord Mayor and some of the Women who were involved with the Grotto Project.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin was the last to speak and he stated that the Community Grotto and Mural was a great example of community development where the residents of St Margaret’s Park and Carton Terrace and Road came together to volunteer to improve their own environment. He carried on to say that the craftsmanship displayed in the construction of the Grotto Project  represents brilliant natural skills and creativity of the Traveller Community in Ballymun . He stated that  St Margaret’s Traveller Community Association play a very important role in supporting the Traveller Community in Ballymun and that the Community Grotto is a credit to all involved.

The Lord Mayor with Ellie and Tom Reilly afer they invited the Lord Mayor into their home for a cup of tea.

The Lord Mayor with some the Young Women pictured later on in the Community Hall

Posted in Events

Website Launch 29th June 2011

Manus Bree, member of the St Margaret’s Board of Management, launched this new website on the 29th June 2011, at the Women’s Group graduation.

Manus Bree launching the new St Margaret's website

As you can see, part of the content of the website can be created by many of the residents, staff, trainees, students and young people involved with St Margaret’s Travellers Community Association, who can upload their ‘news’ and photos to this front page.

Jack McCarthy, a hero

Jack McCarthy, from the Jesuit volunteer programme, developed this website. Jack volunteered with us supporting our events and computer classes at St Margaret’s from January until June this year. Jack has since left St Margaret’s to travel around Europe, but we want to say thanks to him.

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Women’s Group Graduation 29th June 2011

Noreen Maughan (c) holding her certificates folder with Betty Pender (l) and Aoife Cooke (r)


I’m Aoife Cooke, the coordinator of the St Margaret’s Women’s Group Local Training Initiative for the last three and a half years. I’m moving on from St Margaret’s in the next few weeks to a hotter climate, but in many ways I am very sad to leave! I feel so  proud and awed by all the hard work and commitment shown by the trainees this year. I have learnt so much from these women and I genuinely feel privileged that I have been able to work here at St Margaret’s over the years. Here are the few words and thanks I gave at the Women’s Group graduation, Wednesday June 29th.

I want to begin by thanking all our tutors at St Margaret’s and at the same time give you all a taste of the courses we have been involved in this year. Thank you to Máire from Global Action Plan who has showed us our green fingers. Thank you to Lána, Elaine, Mary, Martina, Duana, Breege and Antoinette from youngballymun who supported the group in developing skills to educate children as parents. To Alice and Madeline, our swimming tutors, Gerry from the Poppintree Youth Centre and Antonia who forced us all into runners and tracksuits and had us competing in badminton tournaments by the end of the year.

To Seoidín who facilitated the group on the Nomadic Mapping Art Project, which we exhibited in the Ballymun Civic Offices for Traveller Focus Week and again in the Wood Quay Civic Offices as part of Social Inclusion Week. To Denise who taught us how to make homemade face masks, amongst many things, and about personal care and presentation. To Shane and Joni from the Latin America Solidarity Centre who designed, developed and delivered a course with us on issues around food sovereignty. This involved a trip to the new and old Moore St where the group was asked to buy foods they didn’t even recognise and figure out how to cook a meal using it! Nobody said it had to taste nice, but we did it!

Artist Seoidín O'Sullivan and baby Rhian, with trainees' display of learning in the background

Special thanks to Vera, Claire and Catherine from the Ballymun Adult Read and Write Scheme for their commitment and enthusiasm. The trainees always appreciate their friendliness, approachability and the time they take to support adult learning in our centre. Without them this course couldn’t run. 

We were involved in many once-off events, from a conflict resolution workshop, to meeting Jesse Jackson in Pavee Point to Safe Talk Suicide Awareness, but there’s too many to mention here. One thing I will mention is last week’s collaboration with Near90FM radio station where we presented and participated in a panel discussion on the representation of Travellers in the movies and issues of discrimination. This will be aired between October and December as part of a series called ‘Equal Billings.’

Ann McDonnell telling the audience her education journey

Finally, congratulations to each of the women in the group for their flexibility and willingness to try so many new things and new experiences. In the individual and course evaluations over the last few days, we all agree it’s been a great year. Everyone feels they have gotten something important from the course. This is because each woman took hold of an opportunity and gave so much to it; their time, their energy, their enthusiasm. Trainees’ own evaluations told me they can now read and write better, they’ve learnt new skills and that they had new and enjoyable experiences. But what all the women in the group can be the most proud of is the confidence they have developed; to stand up in front of a group and talk, to give opinions and to have a voice. Well done!   

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New Primary Healthcare Newsletter

Spring / Summer 2011 Primary Healthcare Newsletter

We have just finished our primary healthcare newsletter spring/summer edition. Inside there is lots of health information and some photos of weddings. If you have some pictures of weddings, christenings or a picture of your kids you want included in the next issue, please contact one of the community healthcare workers.

We would like to remind residents that the community healthcare workers are on site Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9.30 to 1pm and Thursday and Friday from 9.30 -4.30pm if you have any queries, or if you require help or advice.

Nancy McDonnell, Helen Stokes, Moll McDonagh, Rosaleen Lawrence, Tina McDonagh and Ellie Mongan

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Fundraiser for the Kivulini Women’s Rights Organisation, Tanzania

Our fundraiser took place last Friday the 3rd of June 2011.  It went very well. We decided to hold a fundraising event following a training course we did about women’s groups in Ireland and Tanzania. This came out of an Exchange to Tanzania that training coordinator Aoife Cooke went on in 2007 and again in November 2010. We have been learning about women’s issues in Tanzania and looking at the similarities and differences to women’s issues in Ireland. The money we raised is to go to the Kivulini Women’s Rights Organisation in Mwanza, a city in the north of Tanzania. We have been in touch with Mary Kabati, who visited Ireland and our community centre in Ballymun in October 2009.

Some images from our fundraiser

It was January when we all got together in St Margaret’s and decided to do a fundraiser for women’s groups inTanzania. We all thought it would be a good idea to base the event in St Margaret’s Community Centre. We decided to do a fun theme and arranged games and raffles. We decided games like jigsaws and ball games were a good idea. All the women’s group from St Margaret’s and staff had a hand in organising the event.

The aim of the fundraiser was to collect money to support the Tanzanian Women’s Rights Group. It was five euro entrance fee. The day itself included games and quizzes which were organized by the women’s education group in St Margaret’s. Other women’s groups came to support us. All the groups got involved and had a laugh. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

On the morning of the fundraiser, we shared some of what we have learned about Tanzania with a photography exhibition in the community centre. We also decided to do a raffle for the fundraiser.  All the prizes we got were donated. The prizes were two hanging baskets, a bottle of Baileys, a plant, a hamper, vouchers for a spray tan and getting your nails done and a lot of other prizes.

There were teas and coffees and lovely scones made by Moll, one of the workers from St Margaret’s. We had sandwiches donated by Supervalu, Ballymun.  There were two trophies as first and second prize. The day was a great success and the women of St Margaret’s were all pleased with themselves.

Nora Lawrence, Noreen Maughan, Anne McDonagh, Aoife Cooke

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Learning Skills Week 2011

The second annual ‘Learning Skills Week,’ took place on the 18th – 21st April. Each of the participants on the women’s education course brought in one of their primary school aged children (or a ‘borrowed’ child!) to the community centre. From Monday to Thursday there were educational activities for mothers and children to do together. These were developed by youngballymun staff and training coordinator Aoife Cooke and assistant training coordinator Betty Pender.

Course participant Anne McDonagh with her children Anna Leigh (l) and Sarah (r)

Learning Skills Week started off on Monday with Lána McCarthy from youngballymun using the storysacks. The children were thrilled with their bags and books and had a great time playing snap. The parents showed the children how to use the jigsaw cards which had pictures of animals on them. Some of the mothers and older children read the books to the younger kids. We finished off Monday by playing physical games with the children, ending the morning with a competition to see who could throw the paper planes the furthest!

Breege Breheny and Antoinette Gibbs from youngballymun brought Wally the puppet, who came to talk to the younger children about their feelings. All the mothers and children had great fun showing their emotions through dancing to the music. The older children were challenged to learn how to play Cluedo (it was Colonel Mustard in the Library with the iron bar, by the way!). For the second half of the morning, everyone followed a recipe to make chocolate chip cookies, with the children shaping the biscuits.

Kelsey showing everyone how to make chocolate chip cookies!

On Wednesday morning, Duana Quigley and Martina Gannon came from youngballymun to work with the mothers and the children on language development games. Next, Duana and Martina read the children a story. The story was about a Caterpillar that ate everything in sight. The pictures and colours really caught the kids’ attention. After the story, Duana and Martina gave the mothers their own caterpillar book to read to their children. The mothers and children used mála to make the caterpillar out of the story. The mothers and children also worked with Aoife to create an Easter scene, with the older children making easter chicks and designing a background for the scene, while the younger children painted hardboiled eggs and made nests.

There was a trip to Newbridge House and Farm on Thursday. The group visited the farm animals, had a picnic in the sunshine and then the children went to the playground. It was a lovely end to the week and enjoyed by all. Bridget Maughan, Tammie Keena, Ann McDonagh, Noreen Maughan and Aoife Cooke

At Newbridge House and Farm


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