The Irish Travellers are an ethnic minority community that live mostly in Ireland and England today. Have you ever seen the movie Snatch? Brad Pitt plays an Irish Traveller in that movie. From the little bit I know they are similar to Romani gypsies in lifestyle but are ethnically Irish (Caucasian). They speak a language called Shelta which combines the Irish language (Gaelic), techniques of letter affixiation/reversal/metathesis/substitution, and nowadays modern English. From what I've heard (on the street, on the bus, etc.) it just sounds like garbled English in a heavy accent.
Romani gypsies originated somewhere near India during medieval times so they are different in origin but have a similar culture and community values. Irish Travellers are sometimes referred to as "tinkers" or "knackers" (a derogatory term) based on some of their historically-held jobs of doing metal-work and animal slaughter. They are a people who travel in caravans, are supposedly experts about horses, and live strictly xenophobic lifestyles. They do not mix with the rest of society--"country people". Although most travellers live nomadic lives, some are more stationary and have mobile homes, which probably due to that fact are called "caravans" here in Ireland.
I dont know too much about Travellers but I am intrigued by the culture, especially their outlandish wedding festivities. I give links to two things below that I enjoyed and give an in-depth look at gypsy life.
1. There was a program called My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding that followed Irish Traveller weddings in England documentary-style. I thought they did a fair portrayal of traveller families and let them speak about their own values. I would highly recommend seeing the documentary before you Google Image Search "traveller weddings" because although the outfits are indeed flamboyant, I think the documentary puts them into the right cultural context.
|click here to see the documentary|
|click here to read about it on Amazon.com|