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Irish Traveller

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Irish Travellers (also called Irish Gypsies or Irish Tinkers) are itinerant people of Irish origin living in Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. Their pursuit of a nomadic lifestyle in these urbanized countries has generated much friction with the settled population, many of whom have characterised them as thieves or accused them of causing problems due to large amount of rubbish left behind at sites they have stayed at temporarily.

The Shelta language is the traditional language of the Irish Travellers, adapted as a jargon from the Irish language.

"They form a separate social group and are distinguished by mainstream Irish society even when the Travellers are settled in houses. About a third live in caravan camps run by local councils while the others nomadize or are on unofficial sites. Their main occupation is recycling waste material." [1] (http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/ireland.htm)

The Pavee Point website says:

Travellers are a small indigenous minority, documented as being part of Irish society for centuries. Travellers have a long shared history and value system which make them a distinct group. They have their own language, customs and traditions. [2] (http://www.paveepoint.ie/pav_about_a)

Estimated numbers of Irish Travellers in:

  • Ireland: 25,000
  • Britain: 15,000
  • USA: 10,000

(Source: Irish Travellers' Movement website)

Though often called Tinkers, such a term though widely used in the past is now seen as politically incorrect and discouraged from official usage. Another old term used was Knacker, which again is seen as offensive.

See: Roma and Sinti, Irish Traveller Movement, Irish diaspora.

Compare: indigenous people

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