Postcolonial Borderlands: Orality and Irish Traveller Writing



Postcolonial Borderlands: Orality and Irish Traveller Writing


A traditionally nomadic people, the Irish Travellers have experienced a long history of marginalization and discrimination in modern Ireland. This volume explores colonisation as an unresolved trauma which has contributed to this marginalisation of Travellers both within Ireland and abroad. Travellers' traditionally oral culture has meant that they have, until recently, been excluded from many educational institutions and frameworks. Focusing on two autobiographical works by Traveller writers, Nan Joyce's My Life on the Road (2000) (formerly Traveller, 1985) and Sean Maher's The Road to God Knows Where (1972, 1998), the prominence given to oral expression and narration suggests that memory is a collective process, one whereby an individual's cultural identity develops on a communal level, a level that is intimately connected to the natural world. By re-engaging with the official versions of Irish history as encompassed in narratives where Travellers are active participants, Joyce and Maher reveal the seminal role of storytelling in the creation of a sense of nationhood for a people hitherto excluded to society's margins. The writings of these Traveller authors also serve to construct a legitimate sense of belonging for Travellers within the modern Irish nation-state. By re-engaging with such individual narrative voices it is possible to illuminate what is lost, but also, what is worth safeguarding for the future.


Christine Walsh (author), Micheal O hAodha (editor)



Cambridge Scholars Publishing




All rights the author



Christine Walsh (author), Micheal O hAodha (editor), “Postcolonial Borderlands: Orality and Irish Traveller Writing,”, accessed November 22, 2019,

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