Saturday 20 January 2018

Parents from Travelling community should encourage children to stay in school - Teenage Traveller Pride Awards winner

Ian McDonagh at the Traveller Pride Awards
Ian McDonagh at the Traveller Pride Awards

Ian Begley

A 15-year-old Traveller with a flair for science believes more parents from his community need to encourage their children to stay in school.

Ian McDonagh from Co Galway was honoured for his achievements in education today at the Traveller Pride Awards. 

The Junior Cert student from Merlin College was the first Traveller ever to participate in the BT Young Scientist's competition.

His project on how the lunar cycle affects mares when foaling won him a second place prize and this year he won an award on his study of the cures and folkways of the Irish Travelling community.

"In today's changing world education is so important, especially within our community," Ian told Independent.ie 

"This is why it is so important for Travellers to be supported to stay in education for as long as we possibly can."

The secondary school student added that many parents from the Travelling community don't realise the importance of education. 

"Most Traveller parents today left school at an early age and might not see all the benefits that an education can have. 

"I think they need to start encouraging their children to strive towards getting their Leaving Cert. 

"I also think school principals across the country, along with the Department of Education should take measurements to increase the number of Travellers going on to second and third level," he said. 

Ian, whose Junior Cert begins on Wednesday, said he wants to study law and politics in college and then go on to join the guards. 

Award recipient and All Ireland Boxing Champion Patrick Mongan and World Champion Boxer Andy Lee
Award recipient and All Ireland Boxing Champion Patrick Mongan and World Champion Boxer Andy Lee

"Although I really like Science my favourite subject is CSPE because I'm very interested in politics and law. 

"Hopefully, I will get the chance to study them in college and after that I plan on joining the guards," he said. 

A total of seven winners from around the country were recognised for their achievements and contributions in Education, Arts / Culture, Music and Sport and Community.

Speaking at the ceremony facilitator Rose Marie Maughan said: "This event reminds us and wider Irish society of the diversity and inspiration which exists within the community, that is worth celebrating.

"This year more than ever Travellers can feel proud of our identity, with recognition of our ethicity in place. 

"But , there is a duty on all of us now to ensure greater inclusion for the community and we look forward to working with the State so Travellers are more visible in Irish life," she said.

Another young man who was honoured at the awarded ceremony was 28-year-old boxer Patrick Mongan.

The Galway local is a recipient of seven Connaught and two national boxing titles and will soon be a contender at the European Championships in Ukraine.

Patrick successfully won an intermediate title and elite title, attaining the number one slot in Ireland.

Picking up his award, he said: "I am incredibly honoured to be acknowledged by a panel of my peers for my achievements and importantly recognition by members of my community that understand the obstacles Travellers face in education and employment."

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