The Irish Walking People
Travellers have abandoned their old colorful wagons, but they maintain a close bond with their beloved horses
Every year hundreds of Irish Travellers gather to buy and sell the horses they have bred. They do this in Appleby in England (in June) and in Ballinasloe in Ireland (in October), and these gatherings are an ideal opportunity to meet family and friends. But who are the Irish Travellers? They are also known by other names: in Ireland they are called minkiers, lucht siúil (“the walking people”) or pavees, and in England tinkers. They are a mysterious nomadic people of Irish origin whose roots, which are passed down orally, are steeped in legend.
According to one story, they are descended from a tinsmith who smelted the nails from the cross of Christ, and that is why they are condemned to wander forever. They are of pre-Celtic origin and are mistakenly thought to be related to the Roma people. Today’s Travellers are devout Catholics, live in large families and have abandoned their traditional colorful wagons, replacing them with more modern and spacious caravans. Governments have long been trying to get them to settle, but their life largely remains on the margins of society, with a romantic and rebellious element. And it is a life in which horses still play a key role.