Violent threats made against Travellers in Castleisland, Kerry following a dispute over a campsite on a public road.
The site in question has been used by Travellers for years, and occupied continuously for the past five months, as their children are attending the local school. There is no prohibition order against caravans here, but recently the Travellers were asked to leave by a group of men who called to the camp. One man who spoke to reporter Bill O’Herlihy explained what happened,
We said we could do nothin’ about it, and that we were ready to get campin’ sites...we told them that the children was going to school and that we couldn’t leave...this man started beatin’ the side of the caravan with his hand, and he said if we weren’t gone agin’ that night...that they’d put bullets in now through the caravans.
Ironically, Castleisland is a town known for its goodwill towards Travellers. Its Itinerant Resettlement Committee works to house travellers, so that the children can stay in school. Why then this conflict between the two groups?
Retired Garda Michael Behan admits a joke he made at a meeting about guns was misunderstood. He also attributes the breakdown in relations to the influx of a large group of Travellers from Galway, who visited the town before Christmas. Some of them were prosecuted for causing disturbances in the town.
None of the Travellers now resident in Castleisland were involved in that trouble, but they have agreed, in the interests of the town, to split up and move to various other sites.
Chairman of the Castleisland Resettlement Committee Willie Lyons admits that there was talk of guns were their most recent meeting, but is anxious to stress that no-one will come to any harm,
I don’t think he really meant what he said, do you know, and unfortunately this same gentleman, he was on the deputation that went to the itinerants for their cooperation, and he said...that maybe there might be trouble, maybe there would be shots fired. That situation doesn’t obtain here at all at all. No question at all about it.
This episode of ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 12 February 1968. The reporter is Bill O’Herlihy.
'Newsbeat' was a half-hour feature programme presented by Frank Hall and ran for 7 years from September 1964 to June 1971. 'Newsbeat' went out from Monday to Friday on RTE television and reported on current affairs and issues of local interest from around Ireland. The final programme was broadcast on the 11 June, 1971.