Irish Travellers: Representations and Realities



Irish Travellers: Representations and Realities


The Traveller "question" has been a major source of debate in Ireland for many decades and Irish society appears as divided on the issue today as it has been at any time in the past few centuries. For as long as Travellers have migrated along Ireland's roads they have been subjected to, at best, a sort of mythic and romanticised condescension, and at worst, vilification and outright hostility - but always as the "Other" of Irish ethnic identity. Michael Hayes closely examines how images of Travellers have been created and distorted over the past few centuries ranging from the nineteenth-century Victorian "gypsylorist" movement to more modern studies in the areas of sociology and anthropology. In particular, the book focuses on the manner in which "Othering" in an Irish context related to the definition of Irishness that accompanied Ireland's independence. As a postcolonial nation the promotion of a unitary version of Ireland's history almost inevitably became a form of legitimisation for many in the Ireland of the early twentieth century. This tendency resulted in the exclusion from Irish self-definition of a number of "Other" groups including the Irish Travellers. Many of the essentialist and stereotypical representations of the Irish under colonialism were now simply transferred to Ireland's most visible Other, the Irish Travellers.

The book also traces the changes in the attitudes of "official" Ireland as represented in State policy and academic commentary in the latter half of the twentieth century. These changes include a move away from an overtly assimilationist and settlement-focused view to a more rights-based approach which acknowledges Travellers' identity and culturalautonomy. Despite such official rhetoric, however, the author argues that Irish society has created an "Other" within its own social fabric, a complex amalgam of equality-driven rights initiatives combined with a largely media-driven stereotype tradition that continues to exist. Where, in all of this, does the everyday reality of the Traveller community fit?


Micheal OhAodha


The Liffey Press




All rights the author


ISBN-13: 9781904148791
Publisher: Liffey Press, The
Publication date: 02/28/2007
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)



Micheal OhAodha, “Irish Travellers: Representations and Realities,”, accessed November 22, 2019,

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