Monday, November 14, 2011

The Irish Traveller and my discoveries

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Today’s Blog Post

The Irish Traveller and my discoveries

As the TV program continued I was amazed with the content and information about the Irish Travellers. Absolutely amazed!

The TLC program caused me to want to know more about these hidden but visible people.

The program focused on the weddings and their customs about religious ceremonies such a Baptism/Confirmation of their children. With the early childhood confirmation looking in some ways like the wedding that they will later take part in their life.

The title of the TLC show caught our attention.. “The Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”!

The more I watched this program the more that I realized that I know nothing about the Irish Travellers… or about the Gypsy People… also known as Roma.

In the Wikipedia I was able to discover a whole lot more… quote…
Travellers refer to themselves as Minceir or Pavees in their own language or in Irish as an Lucht Siúil, meaning literally "the walking people".

Travellers are often referred to by the terms "gypsies", "didicoy", "tinkers" or "knackers". Some of these terms refer to services that were traditionally provided by them, tinkering (or tinsmithing), for example, being the mending of tinware such as pots and pans, and knackering, being the acquisition of dead or old horses for slaughter.

The term 'gypsy' first appeared in record in the sixteenth century from a category of people thought to be Egyptians.[6] Other names, specifically derogatory, such as "pikey" and "gypo" or "gippo"[8](derived from "Gypsy") are also heard.

"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 "Gypsy" by ethnicity but Irish by blood and lead a similar yet distinct lifestyle.”
End Quote
The more that I read the more fascinated I became with these folks.

Using the word “Irish” with “Traveller” would seem to indicate that they are primarily from Ireland. Yet the program that was being broadcast on TLC showed the folks living near many parts of England.

As I read on I found they are in Ireland, England and the USA – likely also in Canada… or may have roots in Canada.

The North American group came primarily by way of the Irish Potato Famine… when many Irish folk came to North American – or were forced to come as children.

That was particularly true in when Dr. Barnardo brought hundreds of children from Ireland and England with the intent that Canada and Ontario would give the children an opportunity to grow up. The fact that they children were primarily of the Catholic faith and were being forced to become Protestants and work for sometimes cruel Protestant farmers and “owners” of these young children… is part of our Peterborough, Ontario Horror story of the Barnardo Days. Many kids lost their identities and family roots completely with the move to Canada and our area.

Knowing what I do about the Irish children and their forced emigration to Canada.. I couldn’t help thinking that many might well have been of the Irish Travellers group.

In the TLC Show along with the bits and pieces they wove in about the weddings and confirmations... they also hit on the hatred that local permanent residents have with these Irish Travellers (Gypsies) living near their villages. The hatred is so great that to rid themselves of this kind of people in their area… they pass local laws and legislations from Town Councillors and regional government leadership to pull down the “nasty” housing of the Travellers.

I couldn’t believe what I saw on TV as I watched. Can you imagine the governments of our land doing that!!!? Whoah! They did do that and they call them Native Reserves… or was that Aboriginal Reserves… or was that Indian Reserves?

And look at the problems that we have today in Canada!
I watched as a young boy, who was being followed by a Camera… watched as his home was being torn apart by a huge construction machine… just because it was owned by an Irish Traveller… and was situated on land that they did not own… or land that was not being used properly or according to local land usage laws.

Irish Travellers are basically “trailer park people” in our area… only our trailer park people are in places that we tolerate – kind of.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC - the church organization that I have worked with as a minister) has many trailer parks across Canada… places where local congregants from the city can come to cluster together… like Irish Travellers… for the summer.

These Christian Camps in Canada are very tightly controlled by local government rules and regulations. In some cases they cannot develop further without a major sewage and infrastructure system being put in place. The local health authorities are very concerned about the increase of people living on a small tract of land… even just of the summer months.

So we do know something of the Irish Travellers plight and their loss of control over their housing. We see it in Canada and within our church organization as well.

I have done much reading and have much more to do to understand these people that live in the British Isles

I would hope that you would be able to click on the links shown below to personally learn more.

Now why would I ever be interested in this topic…? Well… Here is my secret… one quarter of me is Irish… I have Kirkpatrick blood running through my blood veins – along with English, Scottish and German.

And some of the things that I do… are so much like the Travellers… maybe I have found my own!

~ Murray Lincoln ~ 


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