In 2008 the Kerry Travellers Development Project (as we were then known) teamed up with the Kerry Education Service to create a Community Education Programme in the town of Listowel. As part of this endeavour a training course was run by a local Traveller Women’s group with the aim of teaching cooking skills, healthy eating and imparting nutritional information.
The course was initially taught by Alice Virmond, a tutor from the Kerry Education Service, who helped the group research traditional Traveller recipes and learn new cooking abilities. As a consequence of the lectures Alice, with the help of the women’s group, wrote a book based on what was learnt during the experience. This paperback, “Bonar, Wild & Delicious”, was a joint venture between Kerry Travellers Health & Community Development Project, Kerry Education Service and the HSE’s local Traveller Health Unit. Through the encouragement of Jimmy Deenihan TD, the book was launched at the Listowel Food Fair 2009. It features a foreword by renowned chef and food writer Darina Allen, and has been on sale through the KTHCDP since, proving very popular with cooking enthusiasts of all descriptions. All proceeds from the book are donated to the ‘Make A Wish’ foundation, a charity chosen by the Women’s Group. The book is available to buy online – click here to purchase a copy!
More recently a pilot course entitled “Weight Management through Healthy Eating” was established by the Ardfert Traveller Women’s Group. Starting in November 2011, the course initially ran one night a week for ten weeks, but has since been extended. Originally facilitated by Alice Virmond, courses are now organised primarily by Molly McCarthy of the KTHCDP and continue to educate and engage local Travellers interested in learning the art of healthy food preparation towards maintaining a healthy weight level. Courses are co-funded by the Kerry Travellers Health & Community Development Project through THU funding and by the Kerry Education Service through the VEC in Kerry.
Several of the more alarming findings of the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study are directly attributable to eating patterns. The efforts of the Ardfert group continue to tackle directly the issues of excessive weight and unhealthy dieting which have been responsible for so many medical problems in the past.