My Photography on National Geographic online Magazine
Karen Shirley Bernadette tweed
Tarmonbarry a year last Aug, formerly London lived in lot of different places, touring musician art Teacher, Piano Accordion player most of her life.
Mother Ballybunion Kerry, Father Willesden London, Dad Leslie tweed, and mother
Hanora Mac Namara Tweed, when the family travelled to Ireland when Karen was young, always would call their mum Nora or Doreen, Karen wondered why, not Doreen Patricia or Dot her nickname giving to her by her father when they met in a disco in north side of London, Karen’s father a tall man at 6 foot 3 and her mother 4 11, her father nicknamed her Dot, but when they got back from holidaying in Ireland she pushed her mother on why the name change why was she shamed about her name, a little secret they all had to keep when they travelled to Ireland as Nora whenever she came back to Ireland, eventually she got it out of her she was named Honora Mac Namara.
I was shocked, why hide that mum such a great name, I Loved the name, but my mother wouldn’t hear of it mentioned, I actually use to call her Honoury, didn’t know how to pronounce it.
My father worked in a factory, in early 1960’s, the factory was being moved for financial reasons, people had a choice to move either to Australia, all-expense paid or stay in England and move to Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, which my mum agreed to, wasn’t too far from Ireland, wouldn’t bear the thought of being too far away from Ireland.
Settled down there, my father got new work also with council building all the new council estate, he did carpentry; it was a farmer community mainly and between ourselves moving with factory and thousand more that came after them in the years to come.
I went there ‘when i was 3 Wellingborough Northamptonshire rural big rural farming community
Home of Sarah Ferguson, lovely cottages small stone walls very old farmer community to a big change in a short time, with the trains being only 45mins form London became a bigger commuter town, there was a big divide the two opposites never liked each other.
Corby not very far from us, was called little Scotland all had a general Scottish accent, they all came to work in Steel factory’s, was very funny, being deep in English country and every accent you heard in Corby was Scottish. There was lots of Irish also building roads infrastructure, building the M1, mum was loving it, she would meet up with them at church started to bring me to Irish dancing step dancing , I was like what is all this, I cannot dance to this too fast, way to , I loved the music.
How could they play music that fast, primary school teacher music ken Davis seen I had talent for music, but didn’t encourage me not to play piano, more melodic , Accordion, loved the Accordion, my sister got one but I didn’t she was older than me, but I demanded one, my father maybe with good hindsight, said no, he said, well if you really want one, you will have to prove it through classes, and study if your teacher give you get marks you should I will get you your own accordion, well I was so determined I was always looking for it all the time. Joe Cole came to local church hall had marching band on Cory, was also in acoustic band, I was in a school, where there was 1500 pupils, I was one of the only Irish there, and when people would, go out all the time, they would go discos, and such, but I was always found of the Irish music, and when all my school mates would go to Discos I would go to Ceili dancing laying music, Great Uncle Dan Daly, big music Irish dancing and music teacher dancing master 92 when I met him, wanted to see me how I played,
First school primary school Ruskin junior and primary, named a John Ruskin name was after john Ruskin, was heavily involved with the Pre-Raphaelites, patron of the arts always pushed that particular Art. The school was named after him, but not for any particular reason, only believe it or not, a colourful council, who came up with an ingenious way of naming roads, on Karen’s way to School, the roads she took where named after, poets, writers, her route was Shelly road, up burns road, cut across Swinburne road, then up Shakespeare road, then Ruskin Avenue, maybe because of that road her school was called such.
I would go to Library all the time after school like to hurry to finish my homework and learn and study, look up about these other people the roads where named after, I knew a couple, but want it a great idea, made me want to understand. I love library’s, I remember when in school the library near me got one of the first Grooves Dictionary, well it was like dream land.
Because I did Irish music folk music, I had to study something else wasn’t seen as a fully registered, School exams test,, and I didn’t want to do classical, so I did art, also went onto graphic design, but heart wasn’t in it, print making unless you're committed 100 percent don’t do it, I did help out in school with the art side of it and drama, helping to do posters. I taught in a secondary school, taught English through tefl.
Musically I did a lot I helped out Ian Carr a lot met him by accident but through him I got many gigs we end doing many gigs together, got to go to Hong Kong, folk festivals, was how I met Ian, some folk event we did, we jammed to the next morning, he knew I could play, when his band with Katherine Tickell were short a member, who do we get, the only Piano Accordion player worth mention was myself said Ian, played with them. Ian now plays with Allen Kelly. All started though with Joe Coll, at the age of 11 under the guidance of Joe Coll, who came to Wellingborough, Northamptonshire to teach the accordion and also recruit players for his accordion band which was based in Corby. She went on to study with Lawry Eady, Warren Eagle and finally with button accordionist John Whelan who was her biggest inspiration and fired her passion for Irish traditional music.
Mister Woodems teacher all men teachers, very good teachers, he was the last one, last class I had in the school, and he ruled with iron fist harsh very was petrified of him, he would make us learn who to write with ink and pen, italic, he was very stern if we made a mistake, nobody made mistakes or very rarely, and when we all went on to secondary, the teachers new what school we went by our writing, maybe not then but I do now love the writing, made us aware of paper textures.
As I said before, I did graphic designing but unless you were lesbian or a feminist, or hate men back then you wouldn’t do well in that, so i taught TEFL., but found teaching the further you go with that the less you teach, I didn’t like that, I teach now the Accordion, was in another band all woman the poozies we weren’t feminist just fellow folkists.
With partner Tom Mcelvogue, Newcastle, Family from Galway Tyrone, Came to Ireland early 20s stayed here, Dublin now Longford, myself I’m getting into telling children, musicians song writers Inspire me with there so like stories, Love James Taller, Richard Shindle, Joni Mitchell , Bill wither s Stevie wonder.
Accordion teaching locally also Limerick University 3 4 times a semester,
Teach ensemble playing 11-people 9 hours three days to get them to learn a teach them to dare confidence to dare, that’s what I like to teach is the confidence for the to take initiative to sing to learn from mistakes to make mistakes, became that’s what it is all about performing, recovering from mistakes the live drama can you make it, get it back all the greats do it, even daring themselves to play in a flat key, I have student coming back to me now saying they were at such a concert, and found it very disappointing, there was no drama life in it, you were better off at home listening to a cd, as I explained to students don’t be afraid to push the boat out daring yourself to go further, how will you learn if you don’t, literally a rubber was made in 2oth century, the old greats had no such thing, even Leonardo Di-Vinci, you can see his mistakes on paper, same with classical pianists, they could look back on pages and see where they making mistakes.
A new group is forming in Longford, Longford collect, local musicians get together to raise funds for local charities and to show the pleasure of music, hope to teach as well, start to get things happening in Longford, 50 percent of funds raised will go to charity’s, first one we have in mind is Meals On Wheels.
A friend called in looking for a print, and the following subject came up about autism made Karen spoke about a place she knows.
In the Isle Of Wight where Swinburne, originates from, he was a red fiery tempered gentlemen, but looking back, it is thought that he may have been autistic, a Deana Wright, has that place now and has turned it into a place to go for various events, plus they now have a dedicated team and venue for families with autistic kids to holiday in, instead of leaving child to one side and taking a break, the kid and family all enjoy holiday together, in a beautiful setting and a great team, around a family owned business, in idyllic settings.
I have been in 29 various where I have moved to and from, and I see Longford a place where it can only grow, starting from the bottom, same happened in Newcastle, there was a time when they lost everything but now, is a thriving place, Longford’s strength is the multiculturalism that is here, it’s a community I can see go form strength to strength.
Left me with
Moments in life are to be treasured, never judge a book by its cover never assume anything and aim for the moon, I also believe in anybody and everybody can be anything they wish to be, we are actually afraid of successful we could be I thing, can we deal with it or not, Much easier to be a failure, Treat people like you want to be treated, don’t complain, use energy to make things better no matter how little it is, to make that first step is a great positive step.
Blog and website http://www.karentweed.com/
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At home with Patrick & Caroline ‘Mac Donagh’ Stokes, both live at home, in their caravan, at the Hardstand, in Longford Town, where Patrick was born and bred, with his parents, Mickey ‘Red’ Stokes his father & mother Ann ‘Mac Donagh’ Stokes, who lived and brought up Patrick on the road, across from the hardstand, other side of the road where the pitch is now, football pitch where The Wanderers play, was over 35 years ago before hardstand was actually built, then it was where the wanderers pitch is and then moved to where it is now, next door to wanderers football stadia.
Patrick and Caroline have five kids, Caroline came from Tullamore where her parents lived mainly, Charlie & Winnie mac Donagh, Charlie a Tin Smithy, of great stature, Caroline told me her parents were real traveller folk most of their lives but, there was one time for six years, her parents lived in a house, but her Father Charlie just couldn’t bare it anymore, he had to go back on the road, the side of the road he literally felt like he was mothering couldn’t breathe, he died on the road, but he would have wanted that.
Patricks father was a country man traveller, as in helping out farmers, getting paid with food, he never done it but Caroline did some of it herself, her father Charlie was a Tin Smithy, whom made Coal Scuttles, amongst many other things, Caroline and her brothers used to love watching make things with his hands, he made it look effortless, as you can see in photos, which I hope do them justice, some of his work is almost machine like, some well-made, I can imagine it was a great thing to watch him make what he did.
They stayed in Puaric Column heights, but couldn’t take to a house, for the jail like smothering they feel with a house, they have been born on the road brought up on the road, they know no better.
Caroline remembered coming home from school as her mother was cooking bacon and cabbage spuds, ad made bread to keep them going til it was ready, they use to make own tent like home, where they would sleep, a tradition, out of wattles sticks, would bring them into a field bend them into shape, sick into ground and, shaped like oval and when drying they would put canvas over it, and fix it to it, get new fresh straw shake it out and they would have a room, protected from all the elements, and Caroline remembers, pulling the caravan up o the new tent, opening the flap, and putting the Tv on in the caravan and all would watch together.
Patrick was telling me, this is there base but doesn’t meant they are stuck there, they would travel certain times of the year, holidaying, mostly Ireland he said and why not, beautiful places around our country, Kerry Killarney, he spoke of other work family’s would have done apart from country living far work, there was also antique’s, gate making and selling, scrap also, and told me of the new system, that’s in our society today, from having to go to school or losing the benefits, which is a great thing, there is many now form a traveller background, in high end jobs, Caroline told me that one time, he teacher brought her to her home to clean her house, she didn’t name said teacher.
Patrick be an old fashion hunter man loves the dogs also, speak of all the fairs puck fair on in Dec, the racing trotters, and all the money that changes hands, mostly some gathering’s and runs are family and back family and a lot of money des change hand in betting, and some of the family that come over form England have serious moneys heard tell of some races with winnings of hundred thousand, they love the dealing also the battering down of a good deal could be anything and everything they buy.
Told me of Traveller Pride week coming up in 4th of Nov in Local Library Longford town, where there will be photo displayed of the old days, the Tin Smithy’s.
Caroline works for Primary Health care, a health initiative alongside the HSE, that works out of the back of the Crossan’s shop in Longford Town, they meet up few times a week and help the travellers become aware of various health issues, go to them explain about what is there for them, asthma to cancer, its men’s health this week she told me today being 14.09.2015, explain to them how to check themselves and how it can save lives.
Patrick spoke of the new trend with many travellers being sun beds and of the serious dangers, some disregard, even buying some of their kids actually sunbeds, when its illegal for u18 to use them, if you go on holiday and you get a real tan, last what a few weeks, but you see some people tanned when its Dec months’ after any holidays, I just wish they would be more worried about the health effects.
He also spoke of how some people will always judge a traveling a bad light no matter how integrated they are, even if a traveller marries a settler, for many years putting his or her traveller life behind, if you boiled them in water I would always know they are a traveller by how they look, and no matter how far that person goes, if that person did wrong, a settler would say go home ya dirty etc ect,
Always stigmatised, no matter what, I will always be who I am, and I will never be afraid to say I am a proud traveller man, I was born one, raised one live as one I am a traveller, I will never be ashamed of it, and I will die one, and on the road also all going well