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It's a Cultural Thing. Or is it? - Traveller Wagon Wheel

It's a Cultural Thing. Or is it?

The play is based on the life experiences of Michael Collins, a Traveller, who remembers his childhood through innocent eyes. The performance sees Michael going from living in the fields of Kilbeggan in a barrel top wagon to living in a tent at the top of Prosperous Hill. He tells of  describes his family’s journey to Dublin to join the other Travellers who started the exodus to Dublin as a result of changes in the social welfare system. This means and the end of the traditional way of life. During the course of the performance he has to convince his daughter to stay on in school. He takes us through his school days and through his first real encounter with settled people. During the course of the performance he has to convince his daughter to stay in school. The play It is a fast paced sequence of stories, that are like a microcosm of the Traveller community’s  history over of the Traveller community over the past 40 years.

"John says, ‘Has anyone here ever been discriminated against?’ The room went quiet for a minute. We all looked at each other. We couldn’t read the board and even if we could have, we still didn’t understand what he was saying. One of the young fellas said, ‘I was never locked up before in my life’, and another young fella said, ‘I was only getting a lift in the car, I didn’t know it was robbed’. Because John knew where we came from, he said, ‘Oh wait, sorry. I’ll put that in a different way. Has anyone here ever been put out of a shop, restaurant, pub or not been left on a bus?’ All the hands went up, and all the stories came flooding out."


Writer:Michael Collins
Director:Mick Rafferty
Performer:Michael Collins, Catherine Collins
Translator (Hungarian): Viktória Kondi
Premiered:2005, Liberty Hall, Dublin, Ireland



Storytelling has a long tradition dating back to several generations in Michael Collins’ family, dating back to several generations. This tradition vision appears in his semi-autobiographical play, It’s a cultural thing. Or is it? The storyteller’s own memories mingle with tales that he has heard from other peoples, which he recounts with his own personal touch. The play premiered in 2005 at the Dublin Fringe Festival where it received a five-star review. 

In Ireland, Travellers were recognised only in 2017 as an ethnic minority. 

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Focus scene


‘Entertaining, enriching and provocative.’

Irish Times

‘In Collins's first play, It's a Cultural Thing. . . or is it? (A Traveller in Progress), in 2005, he set out to sketch a modern history of Irish Travellers, as seen through the eyes of a young boy moving with his family from a traditional itinerant life in the Midlands to a halting site in Finglas.’


‘According to the old proverb, till the tiger won’t write his own story he will always be hunted - reminds us Collins … The tiger started to write his story’


material to read

excerpts from the play
In case you would like to request availability to the full play and/or the full video about the performance, write an email to info@romaheroes.org and describe the aim of your request!

photo credits

All rights reserved

 1: ©Alina Vincze_Michael Collins

2: ©Alina Vincze_Michael Collins

3: ©Alina Vincze_Michael Collins

4: ©Alina Vincze_Michael Collins

5: ©Alina Vincze_Michael Collins