CD Notes "Respect"
To best celebrate the musical culture of Ireland’s Travelling People we require a better understanding of the unique lifestyle and historical origins of these much misunderstood and misrepresented people. Irish Travellers are marginalised and discriminated against on an everyday basis. This is true even now in 2016 as we celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. It is at our greatest moral peril that we disregard the words of our sacred Proclamation of the Irish Republic of 1916 which “guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past”. As we move through this landmark year celebrating the centenary of this turning point in Irish history, inequality is widespread. Regardless of creed or colour, no other people resident in the Irish Republic are treated with such shameful inequality and prejudice as the Travelling Community! Public and official mistreatment of Irish Travellers is the last ‘accepted’ form of racism in Ireland
Recent DNA analysis has revealed that Ireland’s Travelling People (Irish: Lucht Siuil, the Walking People) are direct descendents of the earliest inhabitants of Ireland. Genetic scientists have established that the gene pool of Ireland is the least diluted in Europe. The genetic evidence shows that three quarters of the ancestors of the Irish... were the pioneering settlers who arrived at the end of the last Ice Age between 17,000 and 8,000 years ago. They conclude that these first inhabitants of Ireland were Basques who “simply walked to Ireland, being cut off generations later when rising seas created the island we know... the Irish and Basques share by far the highest evidence of the R1b gene in Europe which has a frequency of 90% in Basque country and almost 100% along parts of Ireland’s western seaboard” (Independent.ie, 11 Sep. ’10).
Separate From Settled Community:
DNA analysis of Ireland’s Travelling Community has shown them to be a distinct ethnic minority who separated from the settled community between 1,000 and 2,000 years ago. The revelation was made on R.T.E.’s documentary programme, Blood Of The Travellers, and hopefully “will put further pressure on our Government to recognise Travellers as a distinct group of people”. To paraphrase the author Katherine Quarmby; many Irish Travellers are more Irish, ethnically and culturally, than most of the settled community. Throughout the 20th century, Travellers were less exposed to various aspects of mass media thereby facilitating a less diluted retention of Ireland’s ancient ‘oral’ tradition than most members of the settled society or ‘country people’ as they are often described by Travellers. Attending horse fairs such as Ballinasloe (Co. Galway) and Cahirmee (Buttevant, Co. Cork) offers a rare glimpse of Ireland in earlier, olden times. “Once cherished skills like riding bareback, skinning rabbits, handing down songs in the oral tradition, making pegs, cooking outdoors over campfires and trading horses, for example are part of our common culture, not skills that set Gypsies and Travellers apart from everyone else” (K. Quarmby, No Place To Call Home: The Real Lives Of Gypsies and Travellers).