Irish Travellers

This road is well travelled too! Irish Travellers are not Gypsies, yet they are often called so by Gadjo (non-Gypsies).  Irish Travellers share many traits with Gypsies, but are not of Asian Indian origin.  Irish Travellers are Celts, fair of skin, often blond, often blue eyed.  Some claim they even predate the Celtic invasion of Ireland, and this may be so.

Travellers claim that they even predate the Celtic invasion of Ireland, and are the oldest inhabitants of that Island. The Travellers claim by oral tradition to be descended from the pre-Celts, Mab is an old pagan female goddess of the pre-Celts, who were known as the "fairies," "Fir Bolgs," and "Tuatha De Danann." There is pretty good coverage of this history, such as it is still known, on this web site (off site), although it does not discuss Travellers, per se, just a history of the Irish.

In other words, the history of the Irish Travellers goes back much further than the Gypsies. Gypsies came to Europe from India in the early Middle Ages. Traveller history predates the English legend of King Arthur by several centuries.

Traveller Queries

A Settlement of Irish Travellers in South Carolina

Irish Traveller surnames are Costello,  Carpenter, Carroll, Gormon, Lewis, McNalley, Mack,  Ohara, Riley, Sherlock, Roche, Sheedy, Joy, Joyce, Hartnett

Travellers Rest  (off site)- A web site devoted to the Irish Traveller

I am a Irish Traveller from Ireland. I have been to America a few times and have met Irish Travellers from there. Most of them told me that they have been there for generations. But, back in Ireland, when I told other Travellers about them they did not believe me. I think it was because they were gone out of Ireland so long that no one remembered them. They were definitely true Irish Travellers. They called the Gammon which I speak, the Cant, I heard my grandfather say that's the original old term for Gammon. Many Travellers wonder where they came from. I have one explanation: I believe that Travellers are descended from Scottish Tinkers and Romany Gypsies. The Scottish Tinkers made their way from Scotland to Northern Ireland down thru the south. Many Irish historians think the term Tinker comes from the word tinsmith which many Irish Travellers were, but I don't. I think they were tinkers from Scotland. Many Irish Travellers have dark skin. Now a cold place like Ireland is not going to give you much of a tan. That's where Romany gypsy's come in. There are reports of gypsies in England in the 1600s, so if they went that far, what would stop them from coming to Ireland? I think they did and that's where they met up with the Scottish Tinkers, intermarried with each other. This was where the wagons came from that the Irish Travellers used to live in. How could Travellers invent a wagon so similar to gipsy wagons? Because it was the gypsies that showed them. Every night I go to bed, I wonder where my ancestors came from, and to me that's the answer. Can anyone find evidence for my explanation? If it is the case that you do find evidence that this is the truth, then you have opened Pandora's box. What I mean is that you will have rewritten the history on Irish Travellers. Thanks and all the best. Michael Delaney, Irish Traveller.  May 2006

I have been researching the history of the Irish language, as well as Shelta/Gammon/Cant in the US. I am looking to correspond with others who have interest in the Travellers and their language and history. The project focuses on dialectical survivals of Irish Gaeilge in regions of North America, and of course Shelta is an important part of the tale. I have uncovered evidence of Irish Travellers in the US as early as the 1760s.   I have also located a few familles in the census, and on the Famine ships, which has been a little like catching moonbeams in a jar.
Slan agus beannacht,
Daniel Cassidy
The Irish Studies Program
New College of California
777 Valencia Street
San Francisco, Ca. 94110

American Roma & Traveller Home Page

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We will add to this page as we obtain these records and manuscripts.

Anyone with information on Irish Travellers contact me.


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