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