English and Scottish Gypsies have lived in and around and passed through Carlisle since they first came to this country from mainland Europe over 500 years ago. Bringing with them their language, customs and skills of wood and metal working and horse training. They were also renowed as entertainers, musicians, dancers and most famously toymakers and storytellers. The legacy of this can be found in Carlise and surrounding areas on both sides of the border in the old stories, place names and in the local dialect with Romani words like Barie (good), Deek (to see), Gadgee (man), Jukel (dog) Pani (water) part of the local dialect.

Despite Gypsy people being the largest ethnic minority in Cumbria there are still issues of discrimination and exclusion. Because Romani history was mainly an oral culture there has been little if any written about the Gypsies by the people themselves.

Through traditional storytelling and the first Romani written books and plays, I bring the many positives of Gypsy culture and art to a wide range of people, whilst also sharing our many commonalities.


 Richard O’Neill is a multi-award winning, Storyteller, Author and playwright born and raised in a large traditional nomadic Romani family, who’s history in England goes back to King Henry the Eighth, Richard continues the tradition of ‘Baro Patrimishi’ (master storyteller) traveling across the UK and mainland Europe, delivering storytelling sessions and storytelling skills workshops in Schools, Libraries, Festivals, Universities and Theatres. He has a particular interest in using literature to promote inclusion and social mobility.

He is the author of 14 books including ‘Travellers Tales’ the first internationally published Romani picture books. His play ‘Today’s lesson is currently being performed in Budapest by the Independent theater Hungary.

He is a designated National Literacy Hero

He is the co-founder of Diverse Book Week.

His picture books and graphic novels books have received numerous awards in the UK and in the USA including an Aesop medal.

Website www.richardthestoryteller.weebly.com