Irish Travellers

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Jennifer Buser
Final Paper
SOCI 1101 M/N
05/02/2012

The Irish Travelers are a closed community and are very wary of outsiders. For this reason, names may have been changed or left out for the purpose of privacy among the Traveler community. However, once you befriend an Irish Traveler, you have a friend for life. The origin of the modern Irish Traveler subculture is difficult to trace since their history is largely unrecorded. According to Pavee Point Traveler Center, research dates their origins to the early twelfth century. Irish travelers in US claim to be descendents of those who left Ireland 1845-1860 due to Oliver Cromwell’s military campaign the Great Famine (irishtraveller.org.uk). The Irish Travelers are devout Catholics and are family oriented. One of the most commendable aspects of the society is that they take care of their children and elderly. Instead of putting the elderly in nursing homes, they keep them home and they are well cared for by family members. Downs Syndrome is a very common disability among the Traveler community, but the children who are afflicted with this condition are still treated just like any other child. This community is very much a matriarchal society. The women stay home from the fall until the spring to take care of the children and make sure they go to school and travel with the men during the summer while the men work. The men travel throughout the year working from place to place. Because the Irish Traveler children have adult expectations placed on them at a very early age, they often mature much faster than children in mainstream society. Females often finish high school, while the males go to school until ninth or tenth grade and then drop out to work with their fathers to learn a craft such as painting or carpentry. Arranged marriage is also a highly regarded tradition in the Traveler community. The family matriarch begins looking for acceptable suitors for the...
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