Josie O’Driscoll

“You’re born a Traveller, you’re going to die a Traveller.”

This one’s a bit of a ramble. Bear with…

The key to this is to sit back and let the interviewees do the work.

That’s the theory.

It’s their story, their words – you are simply an ear with editing software.

Be the ear and not the mouth.

Of course it’s never like that. The decisions you make – the questions you ask, the paths you insist on their following, the cuts you exercise – are all you. You may not be a mouth but you still speak volumes in your silence.

You get to make choices. That’s the reality.

That’s privilege.

When we talk about certain holiday firms’ exclusion lists or specific comedians’ GRT holocaust one-liners (and they do get named – but you’ll have to listen in for more detail), these reflect my own individual bugbears and senses of guilt.

The bugbear rises up when comedians of Irish heritage start punching down, having doubtless experienced the anti-Irish sentiment of stand-up routines throughout the 70s and the stigma of their parents being deemed terrorist by association. It cuts me to the core because I was part of that post-punk, alternative, generation: we thought we’d got rid of that cruelty, only to find it among our own.

The guilt? It would be easy to shrug and say: of course there’s guilt. I was raised Catholic. But there’s more to it than a glib generalisation. It’s that sense that doing nothing, saying nothing, rolling your eyes at an injustice but not interfering for fear of being ridiculed or losing your job is something I’m as culpable of as any of those holiday camp employees who enforced exclusion lists simply by not protesting against them.

Because that’s also privilege. The capacity to be passive. Another choice.

When Josie O’Driscoll talks about the need for community ownership of Gypsy And Traveller Exchanges, it’s not simply a matter of independence – though there is that – but also because the absence of that paralysing privilege, the lived expedience of being punched down upon, is probably the only thing that will make GATEs truly effective.

But that will take time, education and will. It may not properly happen for generations.

At least one.

I hope they root out the cruelty better than mine did.

Like living and dying a Traveller, these are not choices. These are necessities.

As for me, because these rambles so often are about yours truly, to listen to Josie O’Driscoll talk about such things, and so many others, is also a privilege.

It’s one I’m grateful for.


Interview with Josie O’Driscoll


Published by dougdevaney

Doug Devaney is a writer, performer and journalist. He is the presenter of The Plastic Podcasts. The Plastic Podcasts have been supported using public funding by Arts Council, England

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