Getting to know the Irish Travellers

Getting to know the Irish Travellers

Spending time in the Irish Travellers community was an interesting and very unique experience. My project gives insight into the everyday life and values of Ireland’s largest marginalized group.

They are a beautiful group of people, living traditional gender roles with great importance placed on family, lifelong bonds and observance of God.

For many, life seemed to be a daily struggle for survival. For others, their lifestyle has become a little more “settled” living in encampments (also called halting sites) set up by the government.

All were open and welcoming to us because of the relationships that Joseph-Philippe Bevillard has developed with them for his own personal project.

Much of my own personal work is based on individuals who are survivors, fighting against life circumstances. Because of this I found myself taken by the role of the young girls in the Irish Traveller community.

They are sexualized at young ages and marry in their mid-teens, with the intention of having many babies. Most of them came from families averaging 8-12 children. The incidence of domestic violence is said to be about 81% and suicide is epidemic.

In my perfect world I would like to see the young girls and boys value education more, marry later in life and have smaller families. This would help end the cycle of poverty and domestic violence but I must be respectful of the lives they choose to live.

When I am experiencing different cultures I truly believe one must rise above national interest and self interest to recognize humanity for what it really is: human beings who in their essence, are all the same.

All over the globe we all want and need to be loved, have love of family, and love our traditions.

Two girls posing with pursed lips

Three girls posing with pursed lips

Two girls and an umbrella

A red-haired girl holding a dog

A young woman poses on a bed

Two teen boys and a teen girl

Three women pose

A girl with two dolls

A girl with blue eyes in a blue shirt

A child plays near a trailer with mother and siblings looking on

Mother holds a child

Man with crossed arms looks over his shoulder

Man next to a dartboard, holding a child's hand

15 comments

  1. I love getting to know this unique group through your lens. So facisnatung that they are practically our neighbors, but our lives are so drastically different.

  2. You photos tell a story of a group of people. So much is left to the imagination but the images are powerful . I love them in color more than Black and White in this series.
    Great images!
    So many freckles!!!!

  3. Michele,

    These are such awesome pictures and particularly interesting myself being Irish. The emotions of the children come out of the photo right into the heart. The girls, as you mentioned, definitely appear much older and the emphasis on sexuality is definitely apparent. Thanks for what you do, I am proud to know you!!

    Debbie

  4. Michele
    Thank you once again for broadening my knowledge through your lens . I have been to Ireland several times and was totally unaware of
    The Irish Travellers. Your photos are sooo revealing and capture an essence of innocence under the umbrella of their exposure to sexuality
    at such a young age. Are the Irish Travelers related to the Irish group of gypsies traveling throughout the US that are also having their children marry young ???

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