1st January 1938
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Between 1937 and 1939, primary school pupils across the Republic of Ireland interviewed the elderly in their neighborhood to collect and record local stories and folklore from the 19th century. "The Schools Collection" as it became known is held by the Dúchas Folklore Collection in UCD and is and has been digitized online at duchas.ie. One of the topics schoolchildren were asked to write about were "Travelling Folk" or An Lucht Siúil.

Here is a selection of what "settled" children wrote about travelers in the late 1930s.

Irish Travellers aka Mincéir aka Pavee are a nomadic indigenous ethnic group (not genetically related to the Romani) who maintain their own set of traditions including Shelta (a language of mixed English and Irish origin) which you can hear here:

An Lucht Siúil (The Walking People) 

T​raveling Folk 1938

SOURCE Dúchas Folklore Schools' Collection

Traveling Folk by Michael Durney Cornafulla ROSCOMMON

Travelling Folk still call to our homes. The same people have called for many years. They sell small articles such as hairbrushes, delph, saucepans, etc. They get their goods in Dublin and in other towns. The most popular people who call to our homes are the Joyces. They call in during Easter week. The old people tell us that they used to call at the same time in days gone by. They always carry their food with them. They travel in families from place to place. They come to our district in caravans. They are great storytellers. In former times the people used to come from all parts of the district to hear them telling wonderful stories.

Traveling Folk by Lizzie McHugh, Greagnafarna ROSCOMMON

Traveling folk still call to my home. They have been doing so for quite a long period of time. They are of the poorest class and sell small articles carried in a basket. Some people buy their wares. In olden times the traveling folk were welcomed and the people of the house used to arrange a bed of straw in the corner of the kitchen for them, but recently they set their tents in a sheltered place in the district and then they go from house to house selling their wares. Some of them travel on foot and others have bicycles. They go in pairs. The best known of them are the Heaneys, the Reillys and the McDonaghs.

Traveling Folk by Pat Brady Balieborough CAVAN

Traveling folk visit my home nearly every week of the year. They are the same traveling folk who visited at my father's home years ago. Some of these traveling folk are poor whilst others are not. They sell tin cans and other articles. Some bands of traveling folk sleep in their carts along the roadside whilst other bands sleep in lodgings houses in this town. They do not go singly but go in families. Nearly all the traveling folk I know go around in carts or caravans.

Traveling Folk by Joseph Hamill, Swords DUBLIN

Occasionally traveling folk call to my home to beg for alms. They have been calling to houses for hundreds of years gone by. Most times they are very poor and have not enough money to keep them, and have to depend on the things the people give them to live. They sell small articles sometimes and make a living by that means.  They are never let stay longer than one night in any place. They sleep in caravans and if they have to sleep on the ground under sacks propped up to make a tent. It is very seldom that they bring food with them because they are able to beg for it. They do not often travel on foot, but in caravans and carts, with horses or asses pulling them. They often go in bands of two or three caravans and sometimes only one caravan.

Traveling Folk by Mary Phelan, Glenmore KILKENNY

Traveling folk are common around this district. They usually come in bands but sometimes they come to a townland and stay a few days in it. They sometimes separate and go to different parts of the country. When night comes on them they make a tent by the side of the road but sometimes they get lodging in a nearby house.

The names of some of them that come around this district are Johnny and Mary HennessyBillie RyanJoe DarcyPaddy Conway and Tom Doyle. Any of those do not sell anything. Another well-known band of them that visit this district are the Bolands and another band named Nolan are often to be seen around this district. They usually bring a band of asses with them. Some of the traveling folk sell small articles. Those are called pedlers.

Traveling Folk by Bridie Jennings Cappataggle GALWAY

Traveling folk do not visit Cappatagle nowadays. They have not come in the last thirty years. They were very poor then. Some of them used to sell small articles. Others used to be going around from house to house, selling small articles, and others gathering food. People used to buy from them.
Sometimes the travelers were not welcome. In most cases, they were not welcome because they used to try to stay too long in a person's house. Some of them used to remain a long time especially those in habit of coming often. They used to sleep on straw in the corner of a house and on old quilt thrown over them. In Summertime they used to sleep in a barn. Sometimes they used to have food with them. If they had not the people the house would supply them. They used to travel on foot every day. They used to come back to whatever house they were lodging and they loaded with food for themselves. They used to travel singly. Many people especially women used to come to this place.

A very frequent traveler was Molly Malone. She was a very tall, strong, and stout woman. If she went into a house and find a traveler before her she would beat her out and go in herself.

There was also another frequent traveler called Mary Ford. She was a small stout woman with a robust face. She was well known for a ready wit. She had great sayings also such as: "Poor spite to yourself to bite the griddle." She used to say this when a person would say I will have revenge.

There was also another frequent traveler called Mary Cornichon. She used to go to wedding houses doing odd jobs. Bringing in water and washing delph.

Kitty Cawley used to come very often. She used to travel eleven or twelve miles a day between running and walking gathering her food. She used to drink five pints of porter daily.

An old man named James McOoge used to come round this way. His right hand and his right foot were powerless. The people used to feed him going around from house to house. He used to carry his bedding on his back in a bag.

Peggy Finnegan was also a frequent traveler. She was lame and very cross. She used to smoke an old clay pipe that she used to carry around with her.

John Finnegan was also a frequent traveller. He was a very pious old man. He used always be praying. He has bent nearly to the ground. He had money but he would not own to it.

Fred Hearn called by the people "Wild Jack". He was a great workman. He spent his life traveling around the sea as a sailor. He was fifty years old when he came to this place. He built a house in Ballinaclough bog. He called this house the "brandy". He drew all the stones on his back in a bag. He was a bad Catholic. He became a good Catholic at the hour of his death. He was attended by Father Galvin. He died in Charlie Byrne's house in Chelsy. He was buried in the cemetery of Killaghton. He was a great storyteller. He told many funny stories such as:   "One day he went tot he shop for a quart of porter and when he was going he met another man. The other man asked him to bring him a quart of porter also. The other man's porter was thrown ito the can on top of Jack's porter. He had to drink the other man's porter to get his own. Therefore he drank the two quarts."   The people used to be delighted to hear him telling stories when he would come to this place.

Paddy Ruadh was a very frequent visitor to this place. He was great for going to fairs. When he would go to confession he wold tell the priest all the fairs he was at. The people used to hire him for wheeling turf.

Una the "Joy" so-called because she used to drink black tea with a little buttermilk into it.

Eliza Duggan was a very frequent traveler.

Those travelers used to come mostly at Christmas and Easter and Fair days. Those people used to bring news from other parts of the country. The people used to gather around them to hear them telling stories.

Traveling Folk by James Leydon, Woodfield ROSCOMMON
Traveling folk call at my house very often. The same people have been calling for years. Some of them are poor and some of them rich enough because they have houses drawn by horses. Some sell pictures and small articles people buy from them. The parties I know are "O'Reillys", "McDonaghs", Haneys. They also come for the "Pattern of Keadue" which is from the fifteenth of August to the eighth of September. They come for fairs in Ballyfarnon.

Traveling Folk by Dorothy Harrison Drumakill MONAGHAN
Some people travel about selling goods. Some of them have cotton for sale, some tweed, and many other kinds of tweed. Some of these people are poor and others are not. People buy from these travelers. The traveling folk are not so welcome to the houses as they were long ago. Long ago the people kept them overnight. They slept in the houses for the people used to make "shakedowns" for them or they slept in the barns. These people carry no food with them. They depend on the kindness of the people they visit. Long ago they asked for meal. Nearly all the people go on foot and most of them go in families with donkeys and carts. These people tell other people all the news. Some of the traveling folk sell oilcloth some tables and mats, handmade paper flowers, and many other things.

Traveling Folk by Bernard Daly Lissanore LONGFORD

Some of them are poor and others are fairly well off and most of them sell small articles such as tin cans, basins porringers, tin plates, brooches, and laces. Some people buy these, they say they are better than what you would buy in shops. Others of them deal in horses and asses. The alms they expect are potatoes, oatmeal, bread, sugar, tea, milk, soda, eggs, and Indian meal.

There are other classes of traveling folk. These are called gypsies. They make tables, chairs, and wooden articles and sell them fairly cheaply. There is another class of traveling folk. These are very poor and always go alone and are called tramps. If we give them a cup of tea they are very thankful and tell a lot of stories.

Traveling Folk by Johnathan Dennison, Lurganboy LEITRIM

Traveling folk come at different seasons of the year especially before fair days. They sell and buy donkeys and horses from the farmers. They usually travel on spring-carts except when they go round selling things or begging for alms. Some of them are tinsmiths and they make cans and other things, others go round and sell little round tables. They pretend to be poor but many of them have more money than the people they beg from. Many live in nice colored vans, others live in little tents made of canvas which they put up on the side of the road. They ask for tea in one house sugar in another house and so on.

Traveling Folk by Mary Ward, Kilgarve GALWAY

Traveling people still go round the country, but not in such large crowds as in former times. Traveling people are generally poor, but some of them have the name of twenty, being well-to-do. Most of them have to sell small things to the country people who are glad to get them. There is nearly always a welcome to these traveling people from the country folk. Sometimes they stay in the district for a week or more. Often they come in twos and the farmers give them a night's lodging and meals. In return for this, the traveling people tell all the news from the towns and cities and indeed, he is glad to get it. Sometimes they travel in ones, often whole families go together. The families that go together usually have a cart to carry their goods and their little children. The person who travels alone always goes on foot. Very seldom any person travels on a bicycle. These travelers go by the name of gypsies and tinkers. They generally come to the district when the monthly fairs are held and particularly at The Great October Fair. They best known of the Gypsies are known as Cashes and are looked upon as wealthy people. They buy a large number of horses during the October fairs.

Got Irish Traveler roots? 

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Sean Connery's Traveller Ancestor

Folk Icon Maggie Barry

Tracing Traveller Ancestors

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