Monday, June 23, 2008


I was at the David's Car Boot Sale on Sunday. The weather was awful, and there were very few other cars there.

A while after I go there, a car parked beside me. It contained three women, one the grandmother, two daughters, and a grandson.

From their accents, it was very obvious that they were Travellers. Nothing else though. The little boy was perhaps three, and while he sounded like a mini-
Traveller, and was clearly going to grow into a Traveller man, he was impeccably behaved, despite drinking coke - far better behaved than my middle class five year old! He sat still, he didn't whinge or complain, he talked politely to me, and if he so much as looked like he was going to do otherise, the women kept him calmly and firmly in check.

The first one to talk to me was the younger daughter - I wasn't sure what age she was, and I asked her if the little boy was hers - her answer? 'No, no, I'm only seventeen!' More power to her! Her mother and sister (presumably) had a couple of my cookies, but she resisted as she was on a diet, and had been 15 stone, and was now 12 and feeling great. Though her assertion that she'd gone from a size 16 to 10 was perhaps a little optimistic, but still and all. She had that beautiful traveller hair, thick and curly and auburn, red and gold. I talked to her mum about cholesterol and dieting and lecithin.

They'd come up from Wexford, and it hadn't been worth it to them for the day that was in it, but they were interested in Dunlaoighre next week - the older daughter gave me her mobile number and asked me to ring her with info on it - I said I'd text, and she asked me to leave a message and said something about the texts being hard to see, and I could have kicked myself for not thinking about illiteracy.
I just rang her, and she was so pleasant on the phone.

They were so nice, and so mannered and friendly and normal. And it seems to me you don't hear those stories - I do also have the ones about them coming to the husband's off licence and making trouble, and the ladies shouting about discrimination after just having a piss in the car park... but those were without question a different family. Travellers have never done anything to me, personally, I think calling them knackers just reflects badly on those who enjoy using the term. I know it's not all like this, I've no rose tinted spectacles, but I bet that there are loads more of the kind of family I met yesterday.


Darren said...

That is the very first positive traveler story I have ever heard.

I'm not really sure how to feel about that.

jothemama said...

Oh, I've a couple others - my mum made friends with a girl who came round, gave her remedies to help her with her labour - her family called once looking for money and my mum told the girl that was not to happen again - and it never did.

I've another lovely story too, about an anglo Irish lady who set up a school in her front room, it was great, but I can't remember the details enough - I'll ask my godmother again and post it next week.

Alleged Comedian said...

I used to have a job that brought me into constanmt contact with the hard working travellers, the ones that actually travel and not just Ireland but Germany, wherever the work is. I could happily leave them in charge of the workshop while I went to lunch, and they did give me the best laugh of my teen years when buying a £4000 machine they asked

"Do you take trqavellers' cheques?"

jothemama said...

Oh, I've heard that one before! In fairness, it is an obvious one, but I was well impressed. Funny.

Spud Murphy said...

I used to work in a bank branch and one particular traveller young man would come in regularly. He was always very polite and easy to deal with. Not too keen on chatting too much but seemed like a very nice fella. Got beaten up by a bunch of travellers one time though, and hold a grudge since. Maybe I'm racist but would prefer to not think of myself as such, but i don't like Travellers since then.

jothemama said...

Nope, that doesn't make you racist. That sounds like a horrible and scary experience :(

I certainly wouldn't argue that the elements of travelling life like violence, sexism, alcoholism and god knows what else, be elevated or protected as part of their 'culture'. I don't argue that they have a culture, but that aspect ain't it.