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'A Dignified Life' by Michael Collins

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

In celebration of Traveller Pride 2021, we filmed an event in The Ground Floor Gallery at The Complex, in association with Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group.


As part of the event, Michael Collins performed a poetry reading. Michael’s poem, titled ‘A Dignified Life’, explores the topics of culture, identity and discrimination experienced by members of the Travelling community.


This project was supported by The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.


‘A Dignified Life’

For generations, we were nomadic people, The Tinkers

We would have travelled the green coloured backroads of Ireland

From camp to camp, and town to town

We lived off the land, like the hound in search of the hare

We were the Tinsmiths, the wagon builders, and the horse dealers

They were hard times, but they were the good old days, the old folks would say

We want our day to have our say,

We want the freedom to be proud of who we are

With a sense of belonging,

We’re a dignified people, trying to live a dignified life


In the 1960’s, because of social welfare, Travellers were forced into big towns and cities

Pushed out to the suburbs, down the long dark backroad of a big empty field

With no water, no electricity, and no toilets, not even a place for the children to play

And all these different extended families pushed up on top of each other,

Up to their ankles in muck and sewage

We wanted our day to have our say,

We wanted the freedom to be proud of who we are

We’re a dignified people, trying to live a dignified life


Segregated classes, segregated playtime, segregated social welfare both North and South

We joined the courses, we went on the protests,

We wanted to let the Politicians know that we wanted answers,

About accommodation, education, our health,

And our children who are dying way too young

We wanted our day to have our say,

We wanted the freedom to be proud of who we are

With a sense of belonging

We’re a dignified people, trying to live a dignified life


For 30 years, blood sweat and tears,

We thought our day had finally come

We were recognised as an ethnic minority group in this country that we share

For our families, our sportspeople,

Our singers, our poets, and the activists that led the way

We wanted our day to have our say,

We wanted our freedom to be proud of who we are

With a sense of belonging

We’re a dignified people, trying to live a dignified life


We fought for our human rights,

For ourselves and for others

We lent our voice to those who thought they were lost in the wilderness

Cos’ we knew that many voices together would be stronger

And they would carry a message in the wind

That discrimination and racism would be tolerated no longer on these shores

We wanted our day to have our say,

We wanted our freedom to be proud of who we are

With a sense of belonging

We’re a dignified people, trying to live a dignified life


We wanted our day to have our say,

We wanted the freedom to be proud of who we are

With a sense of belonging

We’re a dignified people, and we will fight for the right for a dignified life

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