Events 2014

Gypsies - Best-selling Scottish author Jess Smith gives an insider view

04 April 2014 - 6 to 7.30 pm

Scottish gypsies, also known as Travellers or Tinkers, have wandered Scotland’s roads and byways for centuries. This is a rare opportunity to hear best-selling Scottish author Jess Smith recount their history from an insider perspective. 

Jess will be at the Kerr St Artspace - the Museum of the Vernacular - on Friday evening for a special one-off event. Entry is by koha. Wine and juice will be available.

In Tears for a Tinker, Jessie’s Journey and Tales from the Tent, the popular author captured the magic and rich tradition of life lived outside conventional boundaries. In The Way of the Wanderers, she moves on from campfire tales to reveal the dark side of a history marked by centuries of prejudice and violence. Her quest for truth takes her on a journey of discovery revealing the stories, songs and culture of these travellers of the glens and braes; these ‘pilgrims of the mist’ who preferred freedom to security and a campfire under the stars to a hearth within stone walls.

The inspiration for my books

"It was early 1982 and there we were: him at death's door and me crying my eyes out over the linen sheeted bed, watching his life ebb away. Gripped by the sheer helplessness of knowing that at any moment his sun would dip for the final time I made a silent promise; to discover as much about Scottish Travellers as it was possible to find, and write a book, a simple, easy to read book. Yet as I walked away from the hospital as the sheet was pulled across his face, I knew there was no way I could even write as much as a goodbye note, let alone a book in memory of that good man, my father, Charles Riley.

"Twenty years later not only have I written his promised book The Way of the Wanderers but I have also penned an autobiography trilogy, a story book and a novel. It has taken many years of research; trawling through piles of documents, linking Celtic and Gaelic legends, reaching back into my childhood nights at campfires listening to the Shanechies re-tell the old tales of the Travelling people so that they should never die but live on as part of Scotland's oldest culture. Finding the cultural time-line has been an almost impossible task. Orally we existed but in the wide world we were erroneously written about. So it gives me great joy to know I broke the barrier of academia to discover our history and tell the truth.

 ‘Come friends and share nights around campfires, taste virgin water at its source, listen to the weasel pierce the eardrums of the hypnotized rabbit. Hear the monarch of the glen as he challenges his foes at rutting. Watch in wonderment the rainbow coloured spine of a Scottish Salmon battling through rapids, onwards to her favoured spawning water.’

Find out more about Jess Smith here:

Contact Cathy Gunn email  for further information