Gathering Together on the Road to Freedom

From Planet 247

by Frances Roberts Reilly

As the Eisteddfod re-gathers in Tregaron, Frances Roberts Reilly draws on her ancestry to trace its connections with Romany Gypsy Traveller communities. She calls for solidarity with the people who attend another festival which has deep resonance for a minority culture: Appleby Horse Fair –interviewing key figures about why this event was the launch of a ‘summer of discontent’ against a Police Act that will criminalise a 500-year-old nomadic heritage.

Every summertime festivals are now a commonplace sight in towns and villages throughout England and Wales, places where communities gather. Two festivals of note stand apart if only for their longevity: the National Eisteddfod of Wales with its outdoor showcase for music, dance, visual arts, literature, original performances and much more. Less well known is the Appleby Horse Fair, which supports the Romany Gypsy Traveller (GRT) community, held every June in the Cumbrian town of Appleby-in-Westmoreland when around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers attend the fair, with a further 30,000 visitors.

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About the author

Frances Roberts Reilly is a film-maker, poet, storyteller, memoirist, playwright and harpist. She is author of the poetry collection Parramisha (Cinnamon Press, 2020) and founder of The John Roberts Heritage Fund.