President Michael D Higgins joined a celebration event today to mark the first anniversary of the State's acknowledgement of Traveller ethnicity.

The organisers said the unique event, at Dublin's Royal Hospital, showcased Travellers' rich culture and heritage spanning music, art, craft, language and social history as expressed through creative traditions.

The event was originally scheduled for 1 March but had to be re-scheduled due to bad weather.

The programme for the event, which is free of charge to the public up to 6.30pm this evening, features musical performances by the Traveller and piper, Paddy Keenan and Senator Frances Black.

There are also workshops on Traveller language, folklore, heritage, genealogy and music.

Dramas written by Travellers Rosaleen McDonagh and Michael Collins will be performed; and there are audio collections featuring Travellers that were first commissioned in the mid-20th century by the national folklore, music and story archives.

There will be craft demonstrations embracing live tinsmithing and beady pockets, highly decorated pouches, worn around the waist by Traveller women.

Arts and crafts workshops will also cater for younger visitors.

The event has been organised by a consortium of nine Traveller organisations supported by the Department of Justice and Equality.

Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Bridget Kelly described the Government's initiative acknowledgement as "a key stepping stone in the long journey to proper recognition of the Traveller community by the Irish State". 

Ms Kelly, who also works with the Galway Traveller Movement, explained that, due to their long experience throughout the country of widespread discrimination and exclusion, Travellers' identity has been gradually eroded.

But, she added, today's celebration provides an opportunity to reflect on the rich cultural heritage from which they come.

As well as featuring Travellers from far and wide, the gathering will hear from prominent linguists, folklorists, actors and playwrights.

For the first time, the organisers will bring together the three national repositories of Traveller cultural assets housed in the UCD Folklore Collection, the National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Country Life in County Mayo.