A recognised community

Irish Travellers

Irish Travellers dating back to the Eleventh Century, are a distinct ethnic minority community and have a separate identity, culture, history and language.

They have a long shared history that dates back to the Eleventh Century. They have their own language called Cant, Gammon or Shelta. The study of this language had provided proof of their long history.

Irish Traveller Movement

The Irish Traveller Movement is a national voice and policy group working to raise the social inclusion of Irish Travellers.

Read the September newsletter

Features include:

  • The Irish Traveller National Conference 30th November 2007 (London)
  • Traveller involvement in Accommodation - Good Practice Guide

To read the newsletter

visit the website

They have a shared set of customs and traditions, which are related to nomadism. They travelled throughout Ireland and also across to England and many Travellers settled in the UK particularly in the 1950’s and 60’s.

They used to travel in horse drawn wagons that were called barrel top wagons and before that with donkeys and tents. Now most Travellers would have trailers ( caravans) and motors if they were still on the road.

Many live on sites, both council and private, some have moved into houses and many still have nowhere to camp and live on unauthorised sites constantly being moved on.

Travellers have a common ancestry and one is born a Traveller. They have been subject to oppression and discrimination and have often hidden their identity to avoid discrimination, especially if they have moved into housing.

Travellers have the same rights as the majority population and now have protection under the Race Relations Act in the UK as a recognised ethnic minority community.

Their contribution to music and story-telling has been of great importance to these traditions. Travellers were the link between isolated communities in a rural society. They carried the music, stories and news from village to village. They also kept these traditions alive during the oppression of the British, who tried to destroy Irish Culture. Travellers were more difficult to restrict as they were moving from place to place. They also had the skills to repair instruments, which were often broken by soldiers to repress these traditions.

Irish music

Music Session

Session playerA Session at the Pointer on the occasion of a welcome visit to Leeds by the Traveller Pipers, John and Larry Rooney in 2005. Download mp3 files of the session at the bottom of this page.


Irish Music

bandToday Ireland is culturally respected worldwide as a land of music, song and dance with a thriving tradition that has, unknown to many, survived and evolved despite penal laws, the famine, mass emigration and the influence of modern music. The contribution of the Travellers to Irish traditional music has often been overlooked.


Related links

Pavee Point Travellers Centre

Pavee Point Travellers Centre promoting Travellers' human rights.

Read more


The Irish Traveller Movement

ITM is a national network of organisations and individuals working within the Traveller community.

Read more


Exchange House Travellers Service

We are an organisation of Travellers and settled people working together to provide services to Travellers in the Dublin area.

Read more


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