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Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing - history of posterity songs and their origins unique to the Irish Traveller community in the UK

Last Man Standing project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund was started in January 2019 to preserve for posterity the endangered songs of the Irish Traveller community in the UK.

It is run by Deafear Productions, in partnership with the Selby Trust and Barbara Lisicki of Entertrainers. It became clear how crucial and needed this project was following a conversation between the Irish Traveller singer and Heritage-bearer Thomas McCarthy with Brian Despard of Deafear Productions. Thomas himself is the ‘Last Man Standing’, performing songs and stories that have been handed down in the oral tradition for many generations. He has said that "when I'm gone it's gone" putting this heritage at risk of being lost forever.

To prevent the loss of heritage and protect this invaluable cultural asset. With the help of a fantastic group of volunteers high-quality recordings of 20 songs, which are being distributed to the wider community free of charge on CD, including an information booklet in the format.

We are delighted to report that the project has been archived at Cecil Sharp House, the largest repository for folk music in the UK. Contact has also been made with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, USA with a view to archiving it in their repository.   



The next steps are to have an album launch at Selby Centre (due to the pandemic, a date has yet to be finalised) with a performance of a selection of the songs by Traveller singer and storyteller Thomas McCarthy. This event will be filmed, edited and a youtube channel will be created to enable visitors to enjoy and learn about this ancient oral singing tradition. The channel will also have links to the website where more information is available.

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