MURROW: Funeral for Romany poet and writer to take place on Friday

A FUNERAL service for Romany poet and writer Kathleen Cunningham will take place on Friday Mrs Cunningham made sure the traditions and history of her people did not die with her and has left a lasting legacy in her books. She died at her Murrow home aged

A FUNERAL service for Romany poet and writer Kathleen Cunningham will take place on Friday

Mrs Cunningham made sure the traditions and history of her people did not die with her and has left a lasting legacy in her books.

She died at her Murrow home aged 69 last Thursday after a long battle with cancer, leaving a wealth of material capturing the colourful way of life of herself and her ancestors.

With seven children, 16 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, Mrs Cunningham wrote down all her memories of an increasingly rare way of life so they could be treasured by them and others.


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But Mrs Cunningham was also anxious to educate non Romany children about the traditional ways of life on the road.

She was welcomed into Fenland schools where she talked to youngsters, read her rhymes and poems and even showed them how to make the paper flowers she used to sell from door to door to make a living.

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Daughter Violet O'Neill said: "She was extremely proud of her books. She was self taught after the age of 11 and knew the importance of education for traveller children. She touched so many children with her work in schools and made sure traveller children were recognised for their talents and she made them feel as if they mattered."

She had her poetry published in 'A Moving Way of Life' and 'Jel Akai Chavvies' and then in 2005 wrote down her family history in a book called the 'Great Romany Showman', which traced her family from the Fens to the fairgrounds of Ireland and featured stories about her grandfather Esau Carmen.

As a child Kathleen was keen to write down her stories, but after marriage to Andrew Cunningham and raising their family there seemed little time. It was when illness struck she decided to make the time to write.

Mrs O'Neill said: "Even shortly before she died she was still writing notes on scraps of paper for her grandchildren."

Her funeral is being held at Southea Church, Parson Drove, at 2pm and friends are welcome at the village hall afterwards.

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