Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is delighted to host a fascinating exhibition on the rich traditions and belief systems upheld by Travellers as part of their daily lives.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Circling the Well’, is the result of collaboration between MIC, the Limerick City Traveller Health programme and The GAFF, a non-profit, community arts organisation based in Limerick City which works with marginalised communities to give a voice to the seldom heard.
As part of preparation for the exhibition, local artist Gillian Kenny Shinnors and Wexford-born artist Michael Fortune, worked with a group of women associated with the Limerick City Traveller Health programme, who shared stories, visited holy wells, made rosary beads, and swapped cures, curses and rituals that have been part of the backbone of their community for hundreds of years.
Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice-President of Academic Affairs at MIC, who opened the exhibition officially, said: “It is truly wonderful to celebrate such powerful women highlighting their culture, traditions and faith. This link facilitating communication between the College and the wider community is vital, and core to the mission of the College. I would like to offer my congratulations to all involved with this launch and by paying tribute to the dedication and vision of the women here in keeping our long-standing traditions alive.”
The visual exhibition includes video and audio clips that bring to life the relevance that folklore and spirituality holds in the day-to-day lives of this community. In addition to providing the exhibition space, MIC held a number of workshops with the participants to prepare some of the exhibit materials including making rosary beads with the input of a student from Limerick School of Art & Design.
MIC Chaplain, Fr Michael Wall, also spoke on behalf of himself and Dr Patricia Kieran, Lecturer in the Department of Learning, Society, & Religious Education, in paying tribute to all involved for their huge effort and dedication to the project—adding that it was wonderful to welcome the group to the campus to the first time for the workshops and again for the launch.
Speaking about the ‘Circling the Well’, Gillian Kenny Shinnors said: “When The GAFF invited me to work on this project, I immediately thought of Michael Fortune – equally respected as a folklorist as well as an artist, as the ideal collaborator. Michael’s work with Traveller women in Wexford is already legendary and we were thrilled when he agreed to be part of our project here in Limerick. We hope that Circling the Well will enable audiences to see the power of the spiritual and traditional belief systems come together.”
‘Circling the Well’ is open to the public and is on display in the Main Reception of Mary Immaculate College’s Limerick campus (V94 VN26) until 7 December.
The project was supported by Creative Ireland—a Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media initiative—and the Arts Council.