One of Ireland’s first, and best-known, Travellers’ Rights activists, Nan Joyce, died last week, aged 78
Born in Tipperary, Nan was the second eldest in a family of 11 and was raised travelling across Ireland with her family. In the early 1980s, she cofounded the Committee for the Rights of Travellers and later became the first member of the Travelling community to stand as a candidate in Ireland’s 1982 General Election.
In 1988 she wrote her autobiography which was included in the women writer’s volume of the ‘Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing’.
In 2010 she was given a lifetime achievement award by President Mary McAleese.
Love/Hate actor John Connors paid tribute to his grand-aunt on Facebook: “She was one of the first major Traveller activists. She helped Travellers up and down the country to access basic needs and services and rallied for equality for decades.
My gran aunt the great Nan Joyce passed away last night. She was one of the first major Traveller activists. She helped Travellers up and down the country’s to access basic needs and rallied for equality for decades. She was our hero. R.I.P Nan. X pic.twitter.com/hpWTVO0DUk
— John Connors (@johnconnors1990) August 8, 2018
“She famously received a standing ovation in Brussels in front of a number of Nobel prize winners. The woman was a force of nature. Luka Bloom wrote an incredible song about Nan and another heroic woman, Rosa Parks.
“Nan is gone now but she’ll never be forgotten and I hope her fighting Irish Traveller spirit lives on in the new generation.”
— John Connors (@johnconnors1990) August 10, 2018
Ms Joyce’s nephew Bernard said his aunt would be remembered for “rising above the hatred, prejudice with integrity and respect for human rights”.
Another nephew, Mark Donohoe, from Belfast, said on Twitter: “With great sadness, my aunt Nan Joyce has passed away peacefully in Dublin this evening. She had worked tirelessly for human rights for decades in Ireland, north and south. I’ve always been proud of her and the work she has done for our people. Chuid eile i síocháin. Rest in peace,” he said.
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