All eyes were on Tuam in Co. Galway today as Irish Travellers celebrated Boxchild Day.
The annual festival, taking place on the last Thursday of February, centres around a ritual believed by Irish Travellers to determine the tone of their behaviour over the Spring and Summer months.
The ritual involves releasing a Traveller child from a huge cardboard box in view of the festival officials.
According to folklore, if the child attempts to fight his own shadow, several months of misbehaviour, including street brawls, breaking chairs over publicans’ heads, hitting ponies with big sticks, drastically reducing the value of land, bareknuckle fighting and eleven year old girls wearing thongs and asking male passers-by of all ages if they would like a blowjob, lay ahead.
On the other hand, if the child smiles at his shadow, then a period of relative peace among the Irish Traveller community is predicted to last until Autumn. This period may contain such activities as: drinking in moderation, measured appeals on current affairs programs that Irish travellers be officially recognised as an ethnic group, friendly and legitimate lawnmower sales to people in rural areas, community clean-up drives, being honest, loveable rogues on reality television programmes and the formation of focus groups to spearhead nationwide celebrations of Irish Traveller language and culture.
The guest of honour at this year’s ceremony, Shite in the Bucket O’Donnell, announcing the official result as a likely year of good behaviour, claimed that the thrill of seeing members of the Traveller and Settled communities come together for one day every year was far more satisfying than tearing his vest off in a rage and pummeling a man’s face into a bloody mush.