Photographer Ciara Crocker spent time with Irish Travelling communities to better understand and portray their lifestyle. Here she talks about the experience and gives context to the photographic collection.
Rooted in a lifestyle of nomadism dating back at least 1000 years, Irish Travellers today do not travel anymore. Originating in Ireland, Travellers consist of about 40,000 with large communities in the UK and US as well. Defined by their history of living on the road along with an impenetrably strong family-centric community, a particular attention to the Catholic Church, and their language “Cant”, Irish Travellers thrive within their own distinguished culture.
Though England recognizes Irish Travellers as a cultural minority, Ireland does not formally acknowledge the ethnic distinction between Irish Travellers and “settled” Irish. In an effort to remove Travellers from the road during the 1960’s, “halting sites” were built for the relocation of Traveller families. Though many still live in sites today, the economic prosperity during the era of the Celtic Tiger in the 1990’s gave some Travellers enough upward mobility to move on into independent houses.
A seemingly positive change, the transition away from the road, away from their communal environment, and assimilation into “settled” Ireland, now presents many new challenges for Irish Travellers. Combined with the longstanding external oppression that Travellers face, this newly isolated lifestyle has lead to a dangerous degree of internal oppression within Traveller individuals.
Constituting less than 1% of the Irish population, the suicide rate among Travellers in Ireland is now seven times higher than that of non-Traveller Irish citizens. In attempt to escape these struggles, many “assimilated” Travellers today choose to not identify with their culture in hopes of avoiding prejudice and remaining in competition for jobs.
Despite the rapid changes in lifestyle for Travellers recently, Irish Travellers remain rich with their own history and character. It is a captivating community that leaves every thought and emotion out on the line in their everyday fast-talking, quick-witted banter. Frequently tacked on at the end of a thought or statement in conversation, the title of this project comes from a colloquial phrase used by Irish Travellers to reverberate ideas, experiences, and their pride in the assured manner that defines them.
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