Why I became a journalist - by Irish Traveller Martin Warde

16 January 2023
Why I became a journalist

I was not always interested in journalism. I originally started off wanting to work in Traveller and LGBT+ rights movements, which is why I studied sociology and politics as part of my university degree. Alongside that, I was lured away from activism by the enticing feel of a stage underneath my feet. I became a stand-up comedian and was the first from my community to do so. Much like journalism, performing spaces tend not to have been seen as welcoming spaces for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people, which is why we need to encourage more of us to push the boundaries and force their way into these spaces. I have now also finished writing my first theatre play too, titled ‘The Dead House,’ which is a story of a Gay Traveller man returning home on the day of his grandfather’s wake.

Martin warde
'The enticing feeling of a stage under my feet' - Martin Warde compered the 2022 Friends Families and Travellers Awards. Pictured here with Sporting Excellence Award winner John Edwards © Lauren Matthews

When the pandemic descended, I lost all of my ticket sales and was at a loss as to where I should go next as a writer. Then my grandmother died in March 2020. This was a big moment in my life because for the first time I realised that the stories and words of wisdom of our elders will only remain whispers suspended in the past, unless we write about them. That year, the Dublin Inquirer asked me to write a column for them and I chose to write about my granny, Maggie Mongan. That column was met with a great reception, and within a few days the Irish Times asked me if I would allow them to reprint the piece. Since then, I have written for the Irish newspapers on several occasions and this was a step forwards towards claiming our own narrative. I then set out to find out whether there were educational opportunities in journalism. With the kindness of the University of Limerick, I was awarded the first Traveller scholarship and I started a Masters degree in journalism.

I hope this is a spark that ignites the interest in journalism within the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. My one bit of advice to people from these communities today, is to tell them to write what they feel, what they see and what they want to be read. Rather than us always being the story from the perspective of a middle-classed writer with no first-hand knowledge of us, let us start to shape our own narratives and write more, show more, become more.

By Martin Warde

(Main portrait: Martin Warde (c) Martin Warde)

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022 edition of the Travellers' Times Magazine. The TT Magazine is published twice a year and is currently posted free to subscribers doors. You can subscribe by following this link here.