Irish Travellers are one of the largest ethnic minority groups in Britain with figures varying from 300,000 to 500,000. It is estimated that one quarter are living continuously on unauthorised encampments as there are no other places for them to reside. There is very little record of Irish Traveller Heritage as there is very little statistical information available. Moving Voices, Irish Travellers aims to redress this imbalance by giving a unique insight into Irish Traveller Heritage on Merseyside.
Irish Travellers have a long history in Ireland. There are nomadic peoples mentioned within pre-Christian oral stories such as Táin Bó Cuailnge. Some Irish Travellers call themselves Minciers, or Pavees, and the Cairds or Nawkins are said to be descended from the Ancient Picts, the earliest known inhabitants of Ireland. The Irish Traveller community have their own oral language called ‘Gammon’ Cant or Shelta, and this has been passed down through the generations and is still used today within the community.
The Irish Traveller community has links with Liverpool stretching back to the beginnings of Liverpool’s 800 year history. Liverpool City Council set up the present Irish Traveller site in 1974. There were 21 pitches created in Tara Park, Liverpool. Some of the same families who resided there in its infancy are still resident there today and many of the Irish Travellers who came and moved on to different locations around the country in the intervening years, have come to reside again in Tara Park
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