From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Irish Travellers (Irish: an lucht siúil) or Pavee are a traditionally nomadic people of ethnic Irish origin, who maintain a set of traditions and a distinct ethnic identity. Although predominantly English speaking, some also use Shelta and other similar cants. They live mostly in Ireland as well as having large numbers in the United Kingdom and in the United States.
Didicoy is a Romani term for a child of mixed Romani and non-Romani parentage; as applied to the Travellers, it refers to the fact that they are not Romani Gypsy by ethnicity but Irish by blood and lead a similar yet distinct lifestyle.
There is evidence by the 12th century the name Tynkler and Tynker emerged in reference to a group of nomads who maintained a separate identity, social organization, and dialect.10 The genetic evidence indicates Irish Travellers have been a distinct ethnic group in the Ireland for at least a millennium.
A 2011 survey by the Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland concluded that there is widespread ostracism of Travellers in Ireland, and the report concluded that this could hurt the long-term prospects for Travellers, who “need the intercultural solidarity of their neighbours in the settled community . . . They are too small a minority, i.e., 0.5 percent, to survive in a meaningful manner without ongoing and supportive personal contact with their fellow citizens in the settled community.”
Irish Travellers are recognised in British law as an ethnic group. In Irish law, there is no such recognition as an ethnic group; rather, their legal status is that of a “social group”. An ethnic group is defined as one whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry. Ethnic identity is also marked by the recognition from others of a group’s distinctiveness and by common cultural, linguistic, religious, behavioural or biological traits.
The European Parliament Committee of Enquiry on Racism and Xenophobia found them to be among the most discriminated-against ethnic groups in Ireland and yet their status remains insecure in the absence of widespread legal endorsement.Travellers are often viewed by settled people in a negative light, perceived as insular, anti-social, ‘drop-outs’ and ‘misfits’, or believed to be involved in criminal and mendicant behaviour, or settling illegally on land owned by others.
Many Travellers are breeders of dogs such as greyhounds or lurchers and have a long-standing interest in horse trading. The main fairs associated with them are held annually at Ballinasloe (Co. Galway), Puck Fair (Co. Kerry), Ballabuidhe Horse Fair (Co. Cork), the monthly Smithfield Horse Fair (inner Dublin) and Appleby (England). They are often involved in recycling scrap metals, e.g., 60% of the raw material for Irish steel is sourced from scrap metal, approximately 50% (75,000 metric tonnes) collected and segregated by the community at a value of more than £1.5 million. Such percentages for more valuable non-ferrous metals may be significantly greater.
Since the majority of Irish Travellers’ employment is either self-employment or wage labour, income and financial status varies greatly from family to family. Many families choose not to reveal the specifics of their finances, but when explained it is very difficult to detect any sort of pattern or regular trend of monthly or weekly income. In order to detect their financial status many look to the state of the possessions: their trailer, motor vehicle, domestic utensils, and any other valuables.
Depictions and documentaries
Irish Travellers have been depicted, usually negatively but sometimes with some care and sympathy in film, radio, and print. Shows like The Riches, (US TV Featuring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver) take a deeper look into the Traveller lifestyle. More recently, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings has been commercially successful in the United Kingdom, with descriptions of traveller life set around real-life weddings.
Irish Travellers are also depicted in the films Into the West (1992) and Snatch (2000), the latter featuring Brad Pitt as a Traveller bare-knuckle boxer, and loveable rogue. He is portrayed as having a deep love of his mother and family, in keeping with true life traveller traditions, which place great emphasis upon family.
In 2010, a documentary by Ian Palmer was released titled Knuckle. A ‘fly on the wall’ record of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting, it was filmed in Ireland and England over a twelve year period.
In January 2012, the two-part documentary When Paddy Met Sally on Channel 5 in the UK charted the adventures of Speaker’s wife Sally Bercow as she became the first outsider to stay on Paddy Doherty’s traveller site in north Wales.
The movie Pavee Lackeen depicts Irish Traveller lifestyle centered on a young girl and her struggles in life.
In the novel Falling Glass by Adrian McKinty, the main character is a Pavee, and there is much discussion of Pavee lifestyle.
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