A Portrait of Irish Travellers in the 1970s
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Irish Travellers play an important role in Irish culture. In this timely book, Janine Wiedel's photographs transport us to the heart of the Tinker (now called Travellers) community of the 1970s. The book presents photographs and words amassed over the course of a five year study of this resilient people at a crucial moment in their history. As their skills of tinsmithing, flower-making and spoon-mending, became redundant to 20th century needs, their traditional nomadic lifestyle was becoming unsustainable. Wiedel’s empathetic photographs remain a compelling record of a vanishing world. Accompanied by the Travellers’ words transcribed by Martina O'Fearadhaigh we gain insight into the anguish of a people in transition. Caught between nostalgia for a vanishing past and an uncertain future, concern over loss of traditional values and a fatalistic acceptance of present difficulties, they manifest qualities of independence, pride, self-respect and sheer endurance. The hardship of their lives cannot fail to command compassion and admiration tinged with regret that society's progress creates such casualties.
Irish tinkers, now known as Travellers, are now known to most of us via TV's Big Fat Gipsy series. This photo-documentary, compiled in the 1970's is an infinitely more sensitive representation of a fiercely independent and unpopular ethnic group. Janice Wiedel's stunning black and white photos are reminiscent of those taken of poor families in the early part of the twentieth century and the personal narratives offer a rare insight into the traveller culture, for example: 'a married woman won't speak to her husband if they happen to meet in town by chance. She won't even nod to him. That shows decent respect.' I found it fascinating - some great journalism and an excellent antidote to Big Fat Gipsy!
Irish travellers in the 70's
A fascinating insight into the lives of this community, copiously illustrated with the author's excellent black & white photos. Well worth a place in the library of anyone interested in people.
An excellent look at the life of travellers in the 70's with sensitive and well lit photography. A brilliant piece of research for anyone making a study of social history! A must read!