Talented Chloe's postage stamp collection set for National Museum
A magnificent collect of postage stamps designed by a Tullamore graphic design student to celebrate the diversity and richness of Irish Traveller culture is set to go on display in Dublin's National Museum and will become part of the National Archives.
Chloe McDonagh, who is a Year 3 graphic design student at the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), Athlone Campus, has been chosen to showcase her work as part of the The Pisreóg Project national exhibition.
Chloe's stamp collection, now garnering national attention, tells the story of "an lucht siúil," or "the walking people," paying tribute to Chloe's late father, who was a member of the Traveller Community.
The exhibition, which was opened by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins at the Axis Art Centre and Theatre in Ballymun earlier this year, has received significant acclaim, with the President himself recommending Chloe’s work be put forward to An Post for nationwide syndication.
Chloe's stamp collection captures the essence of Traveller culture, portraying an older man with a gypsy wagon, a middle-aged woman hanging out washing beside a caravan, and what she calls “New Ireland”, a depiction of a forced transition from a nomadic way of life to social housing.
“It’s very personal to me,” Chloe said, explaining that she wanted to relate the collection back to her father and tell the story of how he grew up.
“It’s a set of three stamps that, when put together in a row, show a continuous road and depict the past and the present of the Irish Traveller experience, encompassing our traditions and heritage and the experience of being forced from a nomadic way of living into social housing, forced to conform,” she said.
Each stamp includes translations of Gammon-Cant, the language spoken by Mincéirí (Irish Travellers), adding a layer of cultural richness to the collection.
Chloe said her hope is to “recapture the essence of Traveller language and share that with people” through the collection, explaining that many people aren’t aware that Gaeilge was not the only indigenous language affected by colonisation.
Chloe’s work is set to go on tour in the New Year, making stops across the country before finding its permanent place in the National Archives.
“Chloe’s stamp project is filled with symbolism and cultural significance and provides a unique window into the rich tapestry of Irish Traveller heritage,” said graphic design lecturer Tara Cullen, congratulating Chloe on her achievement.
“Through her work, Chloe expresses the importance of recognising Travellers as an indigenous ethno-cultural group in Ireland, with a language and heritage deserving of acknowledgment. She is a true graphic design talent with a very bright future ahead of her and all of us here at TUS are extremely proud of her success.”
The Pisreóg Project exhibition also features work from other Irish Travellers, sharing their stories through art and shedding light on the diversity and depth of Traveller culture.
The Pisreóg Project is a Traveller designed and led project that seeks to collect, document, and celebrate Pisreóga, superstitions, beliefs and traditions of the Traveller Community in Ballymun and the variances within these from family to family and from county to county. These will be celebrated and shared in a variety of creative ways, including a calendar of pisreóga, printed and shared online, a glossary of pisreóga and a glossary of Gammon-Cant terms connected to these pisreóga.
The Pisreóg Project is funded by Creative Ireland, the Department of Health Healthy Ireland Programme, the HSE and the Arts Council under the Traveller Wellbeing through Creativity.