I’ll never forget that first St Patrick’s Day I spent with the Dale Farm residents. It was four years ago now and only the second time I had visited the site. I was asked to come along to a celebration the women were having in a local pub. I felt very much like an outsider as I entered the pub. After I finally got up the courage to enter the party, I was literally being pulled in every direction to take pictures of various groups of women clad in sparkly green. It was a wild night unlike anything I had experienced in Billericay before, and I must admit that I was a bit shell-shocked and still felt like an outsider when I left that party.
So much has changed since that day. The residents were always friendly and welcoming to me, but there was definitely a barrier between us and a wariness at the start. It is no wonder that they didn’t trust me, since my local settled neighbours don’t treat them very well. Many local people warned me against going, stating that Travellers might set fire to my car. It has taken a lot of perseverance to break down those barriers and to earn their trust, but now I can say without hesitation that I count many of the residents among my friends. Every St Patrick’s Day, on which the residents without fail celebrate their heritage with gusto, I am reminded of the journey I have been on to get here and how lucky I am to know them.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Mar 17th, 2013