THE RELIGION AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION OF IRISH TRAVELLERS ON A LONDON CARAVAN SITE (PART I

)

c.c.M. Griffin

Introduction
Given Ireland's age-old reputation for religiosity, scholars have paid surprisingly little attention to the religion.of Irish TravellingPeople, One fairly recent book on Traveller society (McCann et a1. 1994). for instance, included only two index entries on religion in a list of over 400, and even these were minor. Other work, including some fine ethnography, remains unclear about whether the ritual data apply equally to Irish Travellers as they do to Romanies (Okely 1983), and some is of somewhat narrow scope (Mends 1997)" This essay is the fir t in a series of two' and is based ontheexperience of two years I spent with Travellers as site warden. of an-official TravelJer caravan site in London, during the 19808. It focuses entirely on Irish Travellers, even though a minority of families were British Romanies. This first paper is organised in two parts. The. first section, Part one, distinguishes, individual from collective religious behaviour and looks at the existing literature on Traveller religion to argue tbat in England religion is important as a marker of identity in ways that it is not in Ireland. Section 2 unravels the nexus between social organisation and communication and classification, and, in doing so, draws heavily on Douglas (1978) and Sirnmel (1964).. Because section 2 of this essay acts as an arch-stone for the rest, we should begin by anticipating its central thrust; namely. that a tension in Traveller social organisation occurs at two levels. One is betwe-en individual families - and the individual members of separate families - operating as strangers (SimmeI1964); that is to say. individuals and individual families physically 'near', but. socially 'remote' from one another: 'potential wanderers' and essentially 'traders'. The second occurs between Travellers as a self-timagined community' and the nonTravellers whom they perceive as the Other, and vice versa .. Section 2 also examines how Traveller social organisation supports a world-view and set of categories and symbols which serve to fashion identity. It arg-ues that when Travellers .speak about the body and its 'inside' they are talking metaphorically of the wider social body; I have already ment:ioned Douglas's work (1984) on purity and dangerbut the present paper also draws on her book on natural symbols (1978) which some commentators consider to be 'eccentric' and 'untidy' (Farudon 1999). For this
NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE I 45

Religion and Social Organisation of Irish. Travellers reason alone I would. therefore emphasise that I have applied this aspect of Douglas's work only years after the data were collected, and that the evidence of bodily concerns which I found was not. something 'I deliberately set out looking for. Indeed, during my first nine months as warden, I consciously avoided reading anything about Travellers and Gypsies so as not to cloud my mind with other people's ideas, including Okely's (1983). Moreover, it was long after my busy years as warden that I reread Douglas and found it relevant Ironically, in this essay about outsiders, it is not only the academi C 'outsider' Douglas (Fry 2000) I rely OD. I also draw on Simmel, another sociological 'outsider', to show that the ernie categories 'inside' /'outside' and their numerous parallels, in addition to. the behaviours that accompany them, echo Simmel's concept of the Stranger as one who is physically near but socially remote. Thus such perceptible patterns of language and action can just as easily be examined eticallyand 'objectively', a Ia Simmel , as they can be ernically and 'subjectively', in terms of the native categories inside/outside. Put otherwise, individualls and individual families within the she will be seen 'objectively to act like Strangers in 'near-remote' terms (the hyphen here serving diaeritically to signal the important coexistence of properties). At the, same time, between themselves on the site, Travellers express a marked inside/outside nonnative differentiation; in other words, a clear sense of social boundary or non-coexistence (indicated here by my use of the uncompromising oblique mark: I). Finally, in their relations with non-Travellers outside the site we shall observe once more, on the one hand a set of etie (near-remote) categories, and on the othera set of emic (inside/outside) categories. Now it may be objected that because Simmel's Stranger conceptpresumes a coexistence of near-remote properties while the Travellers' own inside/outside pair imply separation, the two perspectives are therefore incompatible, Observation shows, however, that while Travellers value and strive to maintain familial autonomy both in their internal relations and in their external relations with non-Travellers, they also exaggerate both (see Stewart 1997) and in so doing, shore up a collective sene of internal community and identity which in reality is fragile. This way they also display resistance to assimilation ..Keeping this modus operandi firmly in mind we can now proceed 'to examine Traveller ritual at two levels: at the individual and individaal family level, which is private andinternal; and at the collective or 'imagined' Traveller community level, which is public and external. and includes IDe site.

Section 1: ReJigion, RituaJand Identity
There appear to be two major reasons w.hy Irish Traveller religion has been neglected, Firstly, Traveller religious beliefs and practices have been considere-d insufficiently 'different' from those of other Irish Catholics to warrant special
46 NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002.) VQLUME 6 ISSUE]

public and external forms which have dominated the discourse over the personal.c. Moreover.3 Although Catholicism in the Republic is arguably no [anger the marker of 'Irishness'" . it would be surprising if for many people it were not sti IJ so. primarily symbolic in character with a non-empirical referent. we need some basic definitions.I had not heard the term before. nor did I again. James defined personal religion as 'the feelings.it was so previously and the query remains. private and internal. Secondly.or brown-skinned. Both religion and ritual are then. culturally defined. NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE J 47 . and nonChristian. and somehow I forgot to follow up the matter. In saying Catholicism in Ireland was 'the religion of opposition to English hegemony' (1973: L 76).. Firth described ritual as 'a level of patterned activity oriented towards control of human affairs. Griffin attention. C. and as a rule socially sanctioned' (1971: 221). Quakers. it is the collective. stigmatised Travellers.M. We can therefore define collective religion as the feelings. many of whom are black. where for centuries Catholicism has been a marker of difference. acts. This essay seeks to correct the situation.Jews. no doubt. because the fanner is more accessible to outsiders. And ritual is associated with both. not 'real Gypsies' . the anthropologist Brody was indirectly pointing up its role in shaping identity .' First. though. men in their solitude. acts and experiences of people in groups . where fer decades they have carried the dual stigma of being both 'Irish' and being 'Tinkers'. An Irish Traveller told me his people back in Ireland sometimes referred to Protestants as dolkies. my spelling is merely phonetic. This was news to me . It holds profound implications for changing Irish perceptions of themselves and of and by their own. Whether the word comes from the Irish adjective doicarnach which dictionaries gloss as 'hard-working. including some Gypsy or Roma groups. in what sense and what contextsmight it still do S0'15 The question. the idea would be harder to sustain for Irish Travellers in England. But also because writers have (ailed to connect social organisation and cosmology in the way Douglas has reminded us. diligent and avaricious! 1 do not know. so far as they apprehend themselves in relation to whatever they may consider divine' (1985: 31). when they have been considered. Why? Partly. is all the more urgent now that Ireland would be home to numerous non-English-speaking immigrants and refugees. Similarly for many Irish Travellers in England. and experiences of individual. Anglicans. Religion and Identity Even were the religious beliefs and activities of Travellers in Ireland not much different [Tom those of other Catholics to warrant special 'inquiry.•so far as they apprehend themselves collectively in relation with whatever they may consider divine. Church of Ireland members. Methodists and Lutherans also have claim . Despite recent growing secularism.

where they themselves were Catholics. whereas the Irish Travellers had their own language: Gammon. private. 85) and Insisting upon their children's religious instruction. which could indeed indicate Traveller secularism or religious indifference. more fundamentally. Apart from the lack of detail in these studies.English Gypsies. When. yet having 'a clear belief in the goodness of God . 1 revisited the site in London on three occasions in the 1990s." Gypsies. (Synge 1992/09). while not seeking to generalise too much about 'English' people. But this does not allow us to conclude much about beliefs and practices today: personal or collective. McCarthy (1975) reiterated this when she described Travellers as neither 'believers' nor 'irreligious'. Or the site some Travellers were strongly critical of c1ergy. and McCarthy (1975) before him. they often mentioned language. (p. noted the low value Travellers placed on marrying in church.. religion figured prominently in these Traveller notions of idemiry. therefore. Nevertheless. Neither writer attempted a coherent view of Traveller religion and in some respects they tend also to contradict each other. Travellers or Romanies. MacGreine wrote. 87) aspect of their lives. they said. 'religion does not seem to give thetinkers much thought' (1931-2: 175).Religion and Social Organisation oj Irish Travellers but whenever I asked Travellers about cultural differences between themselves and 'English' Gypsies. McCarthy says Travellers avoided Mass because of the clergy's criticism of the actionseeking' (p. rather it reflected misgivings about the institutionalised Church 48 NOMAOlCPEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 lSSlJE I . Gypsies or otherwise. some Irish Travellers thought English Gypsies tended to a meanness and lack of generosity which was common in England. but th. even this was not a reliable measure of personal religious commitment. they sometimes declared. Why is this? Does it merely reflect the problem of generalisation. does it indicate that it is easier for outsiders to observe public modes of Traveller religion rather than personal. as uninterested in organised religion. had no religion or 'no real religion". spoke 'Romany'. He noted that some of them attended Mass. Contra: Macflreine. 10 sum. religion and generosity . particularly in matters of sexual propriety (and charges of paedophilia) brought to public attention by the media. Earlier studies Seventy years ago.at unlike the settled Irish they were neither superstitiou: nor did they believe in ghosts. for example. And thirdly. ones? In The TInker's Wedding (199211909) Synge portrayed a hostility to the Church broadly congruent with Sampson's observations (1891). there is also a notable difference of opinion between MacGreine and others when it comes to Mass attendance. is unclear'? Sharon Gmelch (1975) was nebulous about Traveller religion and ritual. nor seeking to play down tbe racism of many Irish in the Republic. or. I made a point on occa ion of systematically questioning some of the people who knew me from before about their religion. Whether this refers to a preference for pragmatic and external magic over a more internalised sacramentalism. while George Gmelch (1977) remarked only on their dearth of ritual and riles of passage and like Sampson (1891).

surround ritual. and then usually expressed doubt about its existence. Barnes. By contrast. and MacGreine talked of the same preoccupation with Hell and the Devil that Messenger (1969) later found on Aran. often remarking that if it did. Evidently writers convey more than just 'facts'. believed Travellers put more value on the public. if only because the virtues offaith and hope required it.C. it was surely there on the site itself. NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 49 . personal and internal meanings.M. the external reference is in balance with Traveller views of internal _purity. and which of the two is closer to the truth.vary according to their status and role in the event. For instance. is also subject. A generalised reference to 'external action' (Barnes 1975) is therefore not incommensurate with Travellers being neither 'believers' nor 'irreligious'.actions dense in symbol . Ritual The meanings that people attach to rituals . Griffin which Synge andSampson alighted on a century ago. Similar differences. Furthermore. all rites of passage is characteristic oftheTraveller . the odds on Heaven were deemed higher. who talked about. rather than the actual import attached to the religious content. and the personalities Involved.of the individuals involved. The depth and balance of the two levels dependslargely on the particular role andstatus. one is forced to woudet whether the two are compatible. to contradiction. The trouble with such an outsider perspectiveis that it demarcates too strongly between action experienced externally and collectively and what is experienced internally and individually by people in their solitude. the sacramental and interior or pragmatic and exterior nature of the rite. yet finn believers in the' goodne s of God' (McCarthy 1975). but emphasis is placed on the 'visual' comportment and the external nature of the ceremony. clergy criticism of the 'action seeking' aspect of Traveller religion. None mentioned Hell till I raised the subject myseJf. love and forgiveness. to God's unconditional. it would appear. The matter of •superstition . collective and external aspects of ritual than upon private.C. when McCarthy spoke of faith in God's basic goodness. In London several Travellers referred. Far from not being superstitious or believers in ghosts as Mactfreine described it Barnes (1975) reckoned Travellers to be 'innately super titious'. Thus whereas George Gmelch (1977: 126) found it lacking. Apart from the problem of generalising there is also a problem of emphasis. (1975: 247) And this reference to the visual and the external nature of ceremony calls for comment. Here outward and pragmatic view of ritual still involve a measure of internal and private meaning. and in this regard is consistent with McCarthy. the first kind of experience is still open to individual meaning. Barnes discovered: The concern with death as indeed with. In truth.

The intensely symbolic and public act which one individual experiences as sacramental is not understood the same way by those who fail to fulfil the ritual condition for full participation. If church weddings have been regarded by observers as examples of an 'action seeking' religiosity. when we ask. For example. including noisy behaviour during church weddings. The same goes for funerals. also shared by some clergy. who noted that 'Church weddings are the rule now but the church ceremony is not regarded as the biggest part of the event and many older people are not officially married'. as J shall explain. was much re-spected by Irish Travellers in Britain on account of his ministry to and knowledge of them. so NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE] . and offspring valued highly. Synge and Sampson all tended to think that Irish Traveller have little interest in ritual. was a cause of real concern 10 many priests. without which no one can enter what the Church itself calls. They also mask the role of personal religion and private ritual in societies like this. (1974: 64). This ack. it is therefore not surprising. accessible only to those fulfilling the ritual conditions. where what is rno t easily observed is collective religion. Eltin Daley. 'not regarded' by whom. including orne who worked closely with Travellers. So. Douglas (1978: 27) understood sacraments as 'signs specially instituted to be channels of grace'. So did McCarthy. Travellers Firth distinguished sacramental from nonsacramental rites by noting that the former have 'as their essential feature. are consequently fraught with bias.971: 223). Even Fr. laughed when 1 remarked on her piety and said. Faith and scepticism: magic and religion Barnes. 'Agh. In short. Generalised views like those of Barnes about the' actual import' of ritual. belief in 'magic' be treated as ethnocentric. is helpful when trying to grasp Barnes's point about 'visible externals'.' What I think she meant was that religious and ritual efficacy require the same suspension of doubt that other kinds of performance do. the answer should be clear. except when Travellers themselves express it this way. like most other Catholics. who before his death. and remarks about their 'superstition' and. sure it's probably all superstition.nowledgement of the coexistence of scepticism and faith and its implications for behaviour. state-ments about Traveller disinterest in religion must be treated sceptically. Moreover. 'the mystery of faith' . since endogamy is the norm. Both saw sacramental rites as involving an inner condition and this. divorce almost unheard of (though not separation). marriage is a pragmatic activity with extensive implications for making and reinforcing social networks. a middle-aged woman with many children who often attended Local Sunday Mass. At every Traveller church wedding most people present will place less importance on the sacrament of matrimony pet se.Religion and Social Organisation of Irish. and had made pilgrimages 'LaLourdes with other parishioners. but by the same token it is never simply that. Travellers eek to reconcile the claims of dogma and rationality. the notion of some ohange in the persons performing or attending the ritual' (1. than upon the public business of formally bonding two individuals and their families.

Acknowledging their depth of faith. As primitive rationalism recedes the aigni ficance of distincsively religious is sought less in the purely external advantages of everyday economic success. relativist. when it comes to relating the beliefs and practices of Tinkers before the Famine to the Travellers who succeeded them. entails itsown myth making. by saying that they (the Tinkers) lived 'outside' society. shared some of Daley's concerns when he spoke withme about their vinstrumenral and 'magical' attitudes. Another travelled priest in tune with other cultures. who praised the Travellers" religiosity.. Synge (1992109). he also forgot Douglas's blurring of the 'magic' and 'religion' difference. read Douglas (1978). Catholics and nomads Like Connolly (J982). anthropologists Arensberg (1937) and Messenger (1969) both remarked on Irish Catholicism 'slegacy of pre-Christian belief and practice. I suspect. However. any shift from magic to religion. Numerous scholars from James Fraser onwards have tried to distinguish magic from religion. multifaith or secular world. And this helps explain why today even the most liberal and ecumenically minded Catholic priest is reluctant to admit publicly that the Church's rationalisation of a complex. Liam de Paor even went so far as to say: 'We can find a wealth of folklore and folk-custom in Ireland. Celts. Expressed in another way. and from external worldly ends to other nonworldly ends. Weber considered religion a more evolved form of magic' a 'rational systematisation of the god concept' containing its own irrationality. expressed some anxiety to me about the Travellers' lack of inner dialogue' and their overemphasis on 'outward signs'. when he said pre-Christian 'magical religion' in Ireland dominated holy days well into the nineteenth century. But the extrabehaviour existence of specific economic evolution just described requires persona) carriers (1969:414-15) as one of its prerequisites the of the otherworldly goals. reliable data are scarce (Helleiner 1995: 636). and universal' . and religion as beliefs in godsand spirits organised as a more 'homogenous belief' system (1954: 67). c. Thus the goal of religious behaviour is successively 'irrationalised' until finally other worldly non-economic goals come to represent what is distinctive in religious behaviour. and in NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 51 . tests its ancient claim to being 'one. but still implied a difference.true. and her preference instead for speaking of 'ritualism .e: GrijJin and who had previously lived in Africa and.c. Malinowski viewed magic as ritual oriented to practical ends. describing them as 'dirty and in their life disreputable' sought to distinguish them from 'tramps' Jiving on the 'edge' of society. AU that can safely be said is that for at least two centuries Tinkers or-Travellers occupied the bottom rung of Iri h society. some of which has a continuous connection with the almost unimaginably remote Neolithic age' (1985: 37). Irish historian Connolly (1982) tried fusing both.

this widened toinc1ude seasonal migration aero s the lri h Sea. By contrast. and despite family identifications with particular COUD!Iy and routes. which is to say. where 'the traditional dates for movement to and from the summer pastures' for rural labourers or spalpeens was May through to the end of November. .'outlawed' and as 'outcasts'. 'summer was a time for "travelling men" of all 52 NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE I . Iramps. but also the figurative sense of a life-substance which is fixed if not in space. Instead. And if in these conditions Travellers for their part came to regard "country people' or buflers with the same contempt and reasoning that Gypsies elsewhere looked on gorgios or gaze.soil not only in the physical.hil.crap merchants in Lawns along the droving routes from Dublin and Belfast 10 the large fair towns in England. pedlars. it isnot surprising. they had no perceived roots in the land and so came to typify the 'potential wanderer' which Simmel 's Stranger is. most of these people were itinerants. he was for all that just a 'special case' of a 'wanderer'. Until recently. However close to the mark this may be. hacklers. and such that it has been remarked. For even though they were not the only spatially mobile • landless. Even 00 the barren isles of Aran landless men ranked last on tbe social ladder (Messenger 1969: 85). stigrnatised people. Others . Armagh .he goal and donkey dealers were those who dealt in rags and scrap. Let us briefly look into this landscape. such views admit no symbiosis . weavers. at least in an ideal point of the social environment' (1964: 403) thus applies also to the itinerant.ily groups who made no such claim on an 'ideal point in the social environment' that was defined by land. Cattle herding (booleying) in IreJand customarily began early in spring. or go overseas. colourful characters whose experience stood them in good stead in the wider world' (Evans 1957). they were the least regarded.the pahvees of Slieve Gullion. Viewed etically. Wen into the twentieth century there was a regular seasonal movement of itinerant tailors..The problem here is that while the Tinker was not the 'full-fledged member' of society that Simmel's Stranger was.if anything. Some became successful rag-and. but a few things seem probable. they could almost certainly can up. and males at that. from Tinkers? More research would be needed to be quite sure. Amongi. To be without land was to be without status.as could many emigrants and even the small shopkeepers of County Clare (Arensberg and Kimball L968)what Simmel called an 'ideal point in the social envlronment'. Traveller and emigrant. a country where a man unable to 'put his name on the land' (IIams 1988) was compelJed to migrate to town. a fictive place on the land. creel-makers. Ireland could fairly be described as a society of peasants and small farmers.Religion and Social Organisation oj Iri~'hTravellers conflict wii.became profitable pedlars of cloth in America and Australia (Evans 1957: 258-9). and dealers in cattle. What separated them. the Tinkers were nomads living and travelli:nginfarn. asses and goats about the lanes and roads of Ireland. 10 the northwest. a member of the 'outcast lowest class' (Arensberg and Kimball 1968: 272). Moreover. What Simmel said of the Stranger being 'by nature no owner of soil.

or have been perceived to do so. it does suggest some continuity with the past. whom they displaced. An older man claimed some Travellers thought it unlucky to collect firewood from raths or ancient mounds beneath which fairies lived. left for Germany in May. but it only accounts fnr J 2. fairs (Evans 1957: 267). church and local community. The media constantly report on hostilities between Travellers and non-Travellers. time of smaller.l controls of state. more local. Even so. Some TraveUers. high technology industries. Ambiguous as strangers at best. apprehension. Samain. II was at this time of year that several London Travellers returned home to Ireland to attend family graves and special Masses." and Salazar's remark that 'fear. fertility. Easter Tget itchy heels. The economy centres on tourism.) YOLEJME 6 ISSUE I $3 . All Saints of Ireland (. ritual and cattle. It was the time Travellers halted for winter. fairies. By now it should be obvious how Ireland's history of emigration and near total absence of immigration goes far in explaining why nomadic Travellers OIl Tinkers have been regarded with contempt for so long and treated as national scapegoats.5 percent of the total workforce (Hussey 1995). 'SI Patrick's Day [the end of winter] I start. Limerick. and the international and European markets. the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (2 November). and it seems into AU Saints (1 November). Griffin kinds. expressed a guarded belief in fairies. to asphalt roads and driveways and deal in antique furniture (Ross 1990). they have stood outside the officia. and the month of October which is dedicated to Souls in Purgatory.6November).' More recently. Car accidents were said to have occurred where local authorities had built roads too close to raths. and for coastwise trading' (Evans 1957: 80).g. only to return (according to the parish priest I spoke with in 1995) in time for Christmas and Midnight Mass. and as 'parasites' i:II1d 'animals' at worst. a few recent newcomers to the site from Ireland in the 1980s adhered approximately to the old calendar. Thus Synge (I 992/09)!irst thought of calling11Je Tinker's Weddin.c. The old word for May Day was Beltaine and into modem times it was associated with fire. to get restless. define the attitude of fanners and rural people in general towards the itinerants' (1996: 43) Bolli statements are widely replicated in England and serve to explain why Tinkers in Ireland once NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (20(J2. and though this probably glosses over more erratic movements. for as crowds were drawn to the great cattle fairs lasting from May until November. the Movements o/May. Tinkers included. so too did the Tinkers. who told me. Ireland is no longer an agrarian society. Agriculture is still important. A Traveller told Gmelch (1975: ]24). including a few younger adults. distrust. Travellers in houses in Rathkeale. the months from November to May was a. 'Hitler had the right idea about Gypsies. plying' their trades en route. and May Day I'm on the road. cu. but suffice it here to recall the Dublin business executive. By comparison. Christianity later incorporated it into the Vigil of All Saint'S or Hal/owen (31 October). According to myth. suspicion. celebrates the pax made between the first Gaelic settlers and the indigenous fairies (sfd).

This interrelationship Douglas depicts by way of a model comprising two lines that she calls. In the first.Relative (0 social structure or social organisation. and why in London in the 1980s Travellers either concealed their identity or brandished it defiantly. 1970) sociolinguistic theory that individuals from one kind of English family structure used a. while persons raised in another sort of family social structure employed an 'elaborated code'. In the former individuals clo ely shared a et of experiences and assumptions of the world that precluded the need.' group' and 'grid'. to another where the individual is unfree and under the control of other people's pressures. 2:: Social Organisation. reflecting a 'belief in the efficacy of instituted signs' and 'condensed symbols' (1978: 26). where well-defined roles and role expectations were typical. remember that Douglas suggested that ritualism could be thought of as a restricted code which. functioned both as a means of communication and social contro1. different sorts of social control. sui generis. symbols generate potent or amplified shared points of meaning. sin is seen in terms ofbehavioural wrongdoing. Douglas defined ritualism as 'heightened appreciation of symbolic action'. different social structures produce different symbol Systems. Where ritualism i strong. use one restricted code for those of their common concerns to which all enduring social structure corresponds. in the second. before proceeding any further. Group here is akin to Durkheim's society. Next. However. while in the second the existence of fewer shared experiences and assumptions required more complex linguistic forms. season and may not necessarily be together for next year.. Section. and variant forms of restricted code for communication within [heir own families. She writes: we can [also] suppose that the pygmies and the Persian nomads who join their respective hunting or pastoral camps for a. Wrongdoing is judged in terms of 'external action'. [or complex verbal forms. like its linguistic counterpart code. kind of English he called 'restricted code'. and expiation is sought in ritual purification. (p. speak less to the collective and are open instead to 'internal states of mind' or individual interpretations . Bernstein talked of the 'positional family'. 78) I shall return to this after looking more closely at the modeL In Douglas's model group marks a line showing a range of situation from one in which an individual himself is putting social pressure on others. recall how Douglas's concepts of 'grid' and 'group' built on Bernstein's (1964. Grid marks the extent to 54 NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE l . symbols are 'diffuse'.Religion and Social Organisation of Irish Travellers passed themselves off as 'whitesrniths' (Court 1985). Communication and Classification To begin. he talked of the 'personal family'. Where ritual codes are weak. let me also remind you that at one point Douglas illustrates her unfolding argument about social structures and codes by way of a case redolent of Travellers.

one would thereforeexpect to find Irish Travellers located alongside her' gypsies'. of his own. Thus as families came and went. Second. the individual is free or alone. rich eccentrics. more rigorously contested than it was when Douglas ~ though by no means blind to the issue . they are to resist being exploited by others using the public system of classification. tramps. Today that notion is. the site's internal boundaries chan-ged.others. Among others. if it is to help us sort out theircategories. The furtherto the right of the vertical individuals are located. the Douglas model presumes social systems as somewhat bounded. which an individual shares categories. First. GRID System of sha:red classificaiion + Self s pressure on Other Other's pressure on Self GROUP T 'gypsies' + System of private classification FigureLr Douglas's Diagram of Grid and Group NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2(J02) VOLUME 6 JSSUE 1 55 . temporarily joining up. alternatively. Traveller ocial organisation on the London caravan site was subject to the flow and flux of population. over to the left. the less able. We can now return to nomads.was writing. as Douglas recognised in the Case of 'Persian nomads'. However. symbols and a 'cosmology with others or. symbols. the point I wish to make is that both. Where group meets grid at zero point (see Figure 1). and so did the imagined and much exaggerated impervious border with 11011. However. Griffin. cu.Travellers. or other. capable of questioning the classifications shared by most . we must consider two things. Bearing in mind what Douglas said earlier about 'Persian nomads' and 'pygmies'. tends towards private but 'coherent' classifications.C. Individuals or subgroups are found inside them. in some measure with relatives and new neighbours. in the case of the Travellers themselves and the bulk of non-Travellers around them. each treats the other as occupying bounded social 'systems. who retain their freedom at a cost' (1978: 84-85). Here one finds 'voluntary outcastes. According to Douglas the 'fringe elements' of a social system are found close to and below the horizontal hoe. this spot [narks the person experiencing anomie. cosmology and ritual. gipsies.

John's younger brother. which had previously been. meant that this family were a power to be reckoned with. were more-or-less permanent residents.like John and Pamela themselves. parts of which also periodically came and went. included several YOtm.or rather. The fact that this extended [amily centred around a nucleus provided by John arid Pamela. Another adult son living ill his OWII caravan but sharing meals with his parents also lived on John and Pamela's plot. at di:fferent times. domestic unit . John and Pamela were a couple in their forties who for several years held the licence of a plot towards the top of the site on which. and occupied a part of the site tha: allowed them surveillance of it. near the entrance. lived orle of the couple's married sons. until/he time he married and was eveniualiy able to take over a plot on the far side of Miles. so the site's centre pJots fell between the two. Futhermore. his wife. and it was only after I was able to exert some. were usually forced to move for want of space. Immediately alongside this domestic unit.as when a married sibling or relative left. Here families . He came and went In the fashion of mell of his age-group. rather than move off the site or stay for years. They ju tifiably felt aggrieved whenever this involved overcrowding and encroachment on their facilities. Whereas the bottom and top ends of the site were the areas of greatest and least movement respectively and thus of most and least concern for social and physical boundaries also. on anotnerplot. but sometimes moved back when space became avai lable . This in tum angered people at the top end like John and his relatives. In some cases it occurred about a domestic unit who had lived a.. long time On the site. occupied by an uncle. and were more disposed to move around within the central area in order to be close by a nucleus family.Religion and Social Organisation of Irish Travellers Boundaries Boundaries between families and between the components of extended families changed regularly for reasons that have little to do with the seasons. For three years the greatest movement of families and family boundaries occurred not at the top of the site. I'll their own caravan. This movement invariably caused irritation and even open conflict to the families involved. influence over the families and their movements at the bottom that rills tension between the two ends eased. For example. which led them to relinquish responsibility for their care of the area. The following example will belp illustrate this. two dawn from John and Pamela (and his younger siblings). but on plots around the bottom. children raised on the site who married. Miles.stayed relatively put. who were fWD strong personalities and long-term residents. his wife and children. 56 NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE I . aged [rom seven to twenty. the four domestic units described wel"e ol1ly clfragment of a bigger kin and affine network. fWo caravans for themselves and their ludf dozen unmarried children. they parked one 0.g adult males all living close to one another. and two small children who .

NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 57 . cousin) were off selling floor coverings for weeks at a time. or for some other reason. and Pamela and their relations) these autonomous but related domestic units were regarded as an£ bigfamity by other residents. escape the attention of authorities. most family movement ceased. The site was full. and ineffect took up residence therefor over a year: Together (like John. hardship increased in winter and with ir (be scope for conflict between neighbours accelerated. Eventually.C. Vehicles. summer movement resembled the seasonal travel of more agrarian times. the population at its maximum. was once a family's own affair. In some respects. the reduced population there made for more congeniality than usual. Griffin For almost two years three married sisters and their children. In winter. had they included a number of permanent adult males prepared to stand their ground. However. Christmas everywhere spells stress as wellas pleasure. to stop work might socialise with one another in pubs in a way they would not usually. Occasionally. But whenever this was anticipated. or weeks in other parts of England. M. with other Travellers than did those who remained on site. today it is the business of various authorities. silver paper from inside cigarette packets served as make-do fuses. and where to stop. The only mitigating feature Was Christmas. 'Every yew between May and August. At various times others left permanently. Bored youths and. and the site was no exception. sought compensation in greater social distance. these trips might include a visit to fairs. as families used more power. to avoid or end a conflict with relatives or neighbours.children with time on their hands. In summary. others devised plans to take advantage. But men who chose or were compeJled. and whereas the decision of when and where to travel.rinking might lead to domestic altercation or worse.female cousin and her childrenjoined them for several weeks in a small trailer caravan of their 01'1111. far fewer did so. occupied three separate caravans all three contiguous plots in the centre of the site. while their husbands (two brothers and C/. Severe bouts of cold caused water pipes to burst and tanks and cisterns to freeze. as families or individuals. In so far as one can speak at all about patterns of spatial mobility and their consequences for boundaries and social organisation. when one of the sisters lefl. Adults in families placed in closer physical proximity than previously. turned to mischief. darting without caution between these motors. a. the families who left for short breaks enjoyed more social interaction. C. though I personally saw no indication of iL. providing they found common halting places. we can say that in summer. less in use now because of contracting in work opportunities. blocked the site's only road. one or two families left ttl spend a few days. relatives who had beenliving without a licence on a plot by the entrance moved over one night withou: my knowing. Heavy d. frayed electric flexes snaked across wet slabs where small children played. the physical conditions often abysmal. and they would have been considered a threat to the influence of networks at the top end. Electric power points just adequate in SUmmer became dangerously overloaded.

In fact. and if so to what extent the symbols were received as diffuse or condensed . one plot. two caravans. parents exercised firm control over children. Unfortunately I did not discover whether families engaged in religious behaviour as domestic groups. however. their spouses and children sometimes occupied two or three immediately adjacent plots. continued throughout the year. and between more collective. each responsible for its own meals and sharing a washroom. 'No five fingers are alike'. also involved the majority of them in 'conden ed' symbols. or else to visit close relatives nearby. particularly inside caravans. and brothers gradually developed authority over their sisters as they got older. However. Fathers generally exercised control over sons. its spouse and offspring: two domestic units. Because there was no gate or barrier to the site and because the authorities were reluctant to install one. As the pattern. which brought together the largest number of site residents and other Travellers at one go.so did religiosity and ritual fluctuare both between personal. while treating each one as a different personality. public and external kinds.een to gossip . two or more siblings. Or again.. older siblings controlled younger ones. Variations on this theme typically included middle-aged couples living on the same plot as a married child. and regarding parents and children so is Berland's (1982) Qalandar phrase. some would do so again on St Patrick's Day. equipped with a toilet washroom. mothers over daughters. thereby bridging the personal and public. of social organisation changed . private and internal kinds of experience. weddings and funerals. Personal religion. Postpubescent males enjoyed more liberty than their sister . Social Organisation The basic component unit of Traveller ocial organisation is the nuclear family. For instance. this could expand to a threegeneration extended family comprising two Or more autonomous units. there was little to stop newcomers arriving as squatters' 58.in part according to the season . as already foreshadowed. But all this went against the norm and in a sense was ritually prescribed. Reputations depended on it The trusted person was the one not . physical contiguity of close kin was the principle reason for internal movement and regarded as the best strategy for minimising conflict with others. NOMADlC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE I . which on the caravan site generally translated into a domestic unit occupying one or two trailer caravans parked on a concrete slab or plot. Men at the top of the site would gather to talk around a bonfire in an oil-drum. The most important way of managing conflict was avoidance. Bernstein's tag of 'positional family' (see Douglas 1978) is applicable. Adults rarely walked beyond the physical limits of their own plot other than to leave or enter the site.Religion and Social Organisation oj Irish Travellers sometimes accompanied by their wive and grown-up children. Within families.especially 110t with outsiders like myself. People who usually kept their distance relaxed. and involved both diffu e and condensed symbols.

s. threaten the newcomers with an early eviction.dupta:bieto changing appearances. while at the same time protecting their own self-interest.M. and in some contexts between Irish Travellers as an imagined community and Romanies as another.others. at one level the caravan site was a collective body. and riles associated with these. between the site as a community and the outside world. while subject. it was fraught with still more difficulties if the squatter-newcomers had relatives on the site. particularly non-Travellers. also shared • and a public and collective. Then I could only confront arrivals next day. as to symbolise this seciery With all its anxieties about the coming and going of families. we would anticipate finding among these nomads evidence of deep C(lrlcems about purity and danger. it would be surprising if there really Was that paucity of ritual and disinterest \11 religion that other writers have led us to believe. During daytime when Iwas on duty I could either prevent this. Finally. and conscious of the residents' desire to themselves be seen as sympathetic to fellow-Travellers. . less individual and familistic religion. or bad sick children.nal meaningare closely with other individuals. maintain. failing.C. Because of the tension existing between site families. If this was not difficult enough for residents and myself alike. or.C. each with its own identity and boundaries that it struggled to. a community of individuals and families with common values. and in view of what this means for the symbolic representation of boundaries. To sum up. and the attempts made on it by 11011. a situation made more difficult knowing full well about the shortage of legal balling places available to Travellers. strangers. In such circumstances evictions could cause more harm than good and gave rise to complex internal politics that 1 cannot go into now. but at night after I had left the site this was not an option. between Travellers generally and nODTravellers. In brief. Herein lie implications for ritual. we would expect the body itself to be so mobile and. it was a place of separate families and family networks.Travellers to penetrate and change it. Instead. one would expect to find a shifting balance between the two following phenomena: • a persorrala:nd private religion where symbols are both received diffusely and subject to individual interpretation. categories and symbols that set them apart from. where symbols received in condensed form make for intensely shared meanings across the totality of Traveller society. to 'perso. At another level. Grifiin in the hope of eventually acquiring a licence. and rec-eived condensedly and. NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOUJME 6 ISSUE 1 S9 .

Martin of Tours. The same is true ofthose more personal. for most participants significance is external. and a couple of them said they recited the Angelus. uncnmfortably SO' •. like weddings. is but a minority experience. or at least: family-oriented.. which is why priests. Sociologically. some would say. condensed symbols allow for shared meanings that me far more easily observed by outsiders than the personal.The same goes for funerals. occasions for the renegotiating ofinternal boundaries and external ones with 110nTravellers. and the anticipation of progeny. and Saints Patrick.. Long-term residents over the years had dealt wi:th legal aid centres. Indeed. first Holy Communion. Our Lady. and last rites. reconciliation. Overall.Hence. and in different degrees. aad in this they were not mistaken. they prayed directly to Jesus. most thanks to efforts of a local support group . What is mol visible is the private meaning beneath the public spectacle. Like some older men. in which the private and personal religious meaning of death registered acutely by condensed symbols. thus supporting their notion of attachment to the locality. status in the event. the London Ttave Hers were nei ther categorically ritu alist or otherwise.. Most of Ulis is visible to outsiders. Funerals are. Franei s of Assisi. Whether we view them emically or eli cally. especially with non-Travellers. St Joseph. reciprocity and consumption.sent their youngsters to local Catholic primary schools. rites of passage: the sacramental rites of baptism. but some women Claimed to co so twice daily. novenas and rosary. Barbara. according to their particular roles. Religion and ritual entered the lives of individuals in differentways at various times. funerary rites are-essentially collective public events.Religion and Social Organisation of Irish Travellers Applying the Model Traveller marriage is as much about the alliance of groups as the union of individuals .. local politicians and Gypsy activists d:i. which I shall deal with another time. confirmation. Further. and those noasacramentalrituals concerning the body and purity. private meaningsof the central actors. extemor celebration of newly made or reinforced ties of groups and networks. and some youths had excelled ata nearby boxing club. its collectively. Travellers were by DO means segregated from nonTravellers in the neighbourhood. Many had previously lived ill public housing and had children and other relatives doing -0. and Padre Pia 60 NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (20()2) VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 . A few attendee! localchurch services.received. and private disposition . such people considered the district "full' of Travellers and Gypsies in houses. the private and interior experience of grace in matrimonyis less important to roost Travellers at weddings than the public.W idvocat€>'i. Personal religion and private ritual Prayer I do not know whether Travellers prayed regularly. Jude. They involve conspicuous hospitality. men interacted with non-Travellers in trade and recreation. as well as formal Church rites. in pubs. collective and diffuse. sometimes complain of behaviour at weddings . not f8( away. though conscious of their borders.

'We are Catholics Here' . Francis of Assisi.Protestant Rorn evangelising in London. rosaries. but generalisation i difficult. females seemed more devout than males. Failure to keep it was considered NOMADJC PEOPLE-S NS (2002) VOLUMB 6 lSSUE. Talismans Individuals of all ages wore holy medals and scapulas beneath their clothes. a 'buffer' who toured Britain in the 1980s. Little different from many other Irish Catholics. CM. and in one instance a Polaroid snap of someone s mother laid out in ber coffin. Invocations. in memoriam cards. The old Catholic custom of crossing oneself while passing a church was also common. which formed smallshrines. Many families kept holy water from Lourdes. his wife and family. or Infant of Prague. following a nationwide appeal to parishes. statues of the Sacred Heart OUf Lady. or 'Lord. Some elderly women said they abstained from Friday meat despite it no longer being a ritual prescription and others said they abstained and fasted in Lent. 61 .made pi Igrimages La Knock and Creagh Patrick. photos of deceased relatives. Other items included plates with images of Popes. a man. while another had water from St Winifrede's Well in Wales.C. Joseph or St Martin. Older people of both sexes had . and a printed window sticker warned. pledges and curses Like other Irish Catholic people. Healers The family which telephoned clergy in Ireland for prayer~ also visited what it called 'healing priests' when it was over there: religious of the nursing order of Saint Camillus. whenever someone dead known to them was mentioned. Under pressure [rom. Lourdes water was used as a defensive charm against. Griffin of the stigmata . Martin de Porres. crucifixes. Devotions Only a few adults attended Mass regularly and those who did tended to be mothers with young children at the local Catholic primary school. which one woman called' lucky water'. his soul'. have pity all her'. The fact that three young sisters with reputations for 'blackguarding' fasted twenty-four hours. Other times such invocations were uttered to Mary. certainly ran counter to my expectation. In a third instance. I.sometimes pledged to the Sacred Heart before a priest to give up alcohol. Travel'lers usually declared 'Lordhave mercy on..Danny Galagher. Travellers talked of the healing power of 'seventh sons of seventh SOIlS'·_ men like. Shrines Every caravan contained its share of holy pictures. One recently arrived family from Ireland occasionally telephoned priests there requesting their prayers. and some had been to Lourdes. Overall. One family also had an outdoor shrine built around a statue of (he Virgin. and older adults more so than younger ones.

but considering their oracy and great ski 1. liturgy. but derided for their celibacy and ability to get money out of people as craftily as any Traveller. It is also consi tent with what some of them say about their faith possibly being the product of socialisation. Some priests. says he. or 'Upon me mammy's grave'. Sunday Mass was said there for a. didn " the SOil know a High Mass'd cost seventy or eighlY quid. but for priests called in to blessit. and urged them instead to attend his church services. Long before I began on the site. consequently. It was later dropped when the priest. And bluff though such curses invariably were. Sure as not. that Travellers who are thought magical and old-fashioned by clergy. Trying to persuade a non-Traveller she was not lying. it may be there is some residual belief in their intrinsic power. but such men were few. and Vatican II Attitudes towards priests were generally ambiguous and similar to those reported for Aran Islanders (Messenger 1969). Court (1985) called the latter 'parity of deception'.' Scepticism and distrust partly help explain why in the nineteenth century some Travellers declined to marry within the Church. and the foUowing story illustrates it: '1 knew a mati once. a:nd her outpouring dried up immediately. Now. Others were valued for their ritual service alone. Some peopJe said a widow's curse was powerful and a widower's or blacksmith's stronger still. However. lind when the old man died 1M priest said.while and was apparently weU attended. an open-minded man of fine intellect. even though more families than ever were sending their 62 NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISS'UE J . Whether Travellers really believed thi or simply recalled it as lore is uncertain. this was further evidence of superstition and magic.but cursing was quire another and could bite back in the form of bad luck or divine punishment. "Me [ather was at the Dardanelles {in World War 1] and fought his way out. should themselves accuse clergy of the same. a female Traveller might lard her prate t with 'I swear on me babby's head'. adds weight to this possibility. judged it was beginning to encourage "gheuoisation' . the sor1 of a farmer. both tor their knowledge of Traveller society and service to it. Welll'low.Religion and Social Organisation oj Irish Travellers 'unlucky'. 't the son say. like Eltin Daley. Priests. I heard your father died. to cheat them was reckless. the advice fell on deaf ears. Lying was one thing . or 'I swear to God in Heaven'. they were not made lightly. didn. Yet even that rationalism is insufficiem to explain why so few Traveller from the site attended Sunday Mass. "Father". then. if you have a High Mass said it'll help him 011 his way to Purgatory". It is ironic. One day I 'tested' a woman by asking her to swear on her dead mother s head and not her baby's. indoctrination even. Sure. were greatly respected.1 in baffling and confusing outsiders with words. The suggestion posited by some that a string of serious accidents on site over the years was evidence the place was cursed.especially to an official . he'll fight his way out of Purgatory". "Sure.

how difficult and dangerous it is to geaeralise about Travellers. a ritual handshake between laity and priest. Most adults on the London site bad travelled and sojourned widely in Britain. as. some men had done the same in America. while serving to maintaining their social boundary. many Travellers disliked it. Simmel suggested that the Stranger's origins outside the group lent him a capacity for objectivity that eluded insiders. and to a point so it is with Travellers. interpretations. For the Latin. the Council excised a restricted code of condensed symbols whose interpretations at one level were shared Universally by Catholics. which is to say less universal: more local. though in the Travellers' case the reasons for it. most had met journalists and scholars. Likewise. all knew from experience about hardship and injustice.C.. All knew what it meant to be closely observed.Travellers. my emphasis).was only their own personal point of view. and not one necessarily shared b~ others .virrespective ·0. whose identity as Irish drew strength from it.M. how important was it then for Irish Travellers? The shift from formal to informal liturgy. For them the resultant show of closeness to non-Travellers inside church. and here Douglas's insights on ritualism continue to be potent.. This goes particularly for those born before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-5). even about their own family members. Douglas argued for Friday abstinence. I suspect. when they chose. from universally received symbols that also allowed for personal interpretation. wasoot only cognitively dissonant. meant that a condensed code or ritual language that integrated them with non. down the boundaries. and misrepresented. when the 'sign of peace'. imperfect though it is.1' their cultural differences. derives from the experience of nomadism. while never seriously threatening the boundary it presumes. by virtue of its universal meaning and scope for personal meanings. Most know. from. they would often stress that anything they told me. That being the case. but threatening to their social identity. were different. whose faith is tested by a rational scepticism and knowledge of different social types which. helped Travellers temporarily transcend their inside/outside ideology. providing they could cross the border on their own terms.C.Experience was always personal and it NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE I 63 . Although McLoughlin (1994) says Travellers resent being separated from nonTravellers. as did many other Catholics. and continuing distance from them outside. a more rational liturgy of diffuse symbols whose 'ideas are comprehensive enough in reference . and at another open to more local and personal.especially in confidence . helping to break. [to elicit] a standard emotional response' (Douglas 1978: 29. condensed to diffuse symbols. instead. Their social encounters had generally been varied and many. Griffin children LO his primary school. was the Travellers' sense of stigma.. and many told me. more personal. Further. this change was nowhere felt more acutely than among Irish migrants in Britain. many I knew valued the separation. was suddenly removed. Every Traveller is a keen observer. So why this low turnout at Mass?& One 'factor. It installed. became a part of Sunday Mass. In replacing Latin with the vernacular.

Part Il of this study will appear in volume 6 (2). and real education. 8. In reality not all Tinkers in Britain or in England were 'Irish'. For that matter.. 5. The work of a Traveller Support Group established in the 1970s and made up of Travellers and many non-Travellers. 4. the best education. Gammon (also known as Shelta or cant). [am not the first person to comment on Irish Traveller notions of cleanliness and dirt (Ni Sbuinear 1994). Lastly.and nerve. It will look at bow certain cleansing rituals function as corporeal codes about Traveller notions of r~sand them and social organisation more generally. which made gains in getting more site children 2. and connect them with the current di cuss ion of Travellers as Strangers (Simmer 1964). It will examine how the ernie categories 'clean' and 'dirty' aet as metaphors of inclusion. 'Tinker' here means any Irish Traveller from the mid-nineteenth century onwards for although the men today are uo Ionger tinsmiths. 64 NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 . based on fleeting interviews and selective photography. in ways that: resemble those found in British Romany (Okely 1983). Formal education is thought to hamper initiative . which remains largely intact. and Hungarian Gypsy societies (Stewart 1997). as is the term 'itinerant'. irrespective of gender. was stoutly denied for about a year by inhabitants of the site . In quiet moments. 6. Sutherland ]975). All knowledge of the secret language. Confronted by life's hard realities and perpetual uncertainties. and knowing imperfectly something of the human condition. With faith and luck one should get to Heaven. but he believes she bas revised SOme of her earlier views. Photographers have sometime better captured the private religiosity of Travellers than have writers. . The author has not been able to speak personally with McCarthy on thi matter. some come from Ulster which is part of the UK. but there is also a feeling that there is no substitute for the education which comes with nomadism. individuals displayed a marked reflexivity which supported their cynicism and impatience with media representations of themselves. American Rom (Miller 1975. Henceforth 'Ireland' will simply mean the Republic. the Tinker tag Is still attached disperagingly (0 them all.Religion and Social Organisation of Irisk Travellers was commonly remarked that no two Travellers see things the rune way. but in 1973 this clause was discreetly removed (Hussey 1995: 382). nor were they all nomadic (though most of the Irish ones were). is said to come with the travelling Life. the Catholic Church was accorded a 'special position' as 'guardian of the faith of the great majority'. not all Irish Tinkers specialised in smithing. Notes 1. By article 44 of the 1937 Constitution. 3. 7.Only with extreme reluctance was it eventually admitted and partially revealed. Travellers were ofthe opinion that all anyone can do is live as best one can according to the religion and lessons of experience one has learnt. increasingly so. and exclusion (Douglas 1966). 2002. In their opinion real knowledge about Travellers only comes from living and mixing with them. Formal education i valued. while to my knowledge the majority of Irish Travellers are Catholics and born in the Republic.

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Les modes d'expression religieuse. que en general son menos visibles desde afuera que rites colectivos como las bodas y los funerales. exprimees en terrnes vagues. individual y familiar. NOMADIC PEOPLES NS (. tels que .M. Sur Ie plan theorique. aussi bien que collectif et communautaire. Garceux-ci ont generalerneat etc negliges. cette etude s'inspire des travaux theories de Mary Douglas et de Georg Simrnel. Teoricamente el trabajo se inspira en los enfoques de Mary Douglas y Georg Simmel. Se analizan las caracterfsticas de los afiliados a la sociedad de viajeros. y sent etudies en detail.2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 67 . Les chercheurs ne se sont pas peaches que. Cette analyse repose sur I' experience acquise pendant deux annees de contacts avec les habitants d' un caravaning pour nomades srtne it Lo:ndres en tant que directeur de ce site pendant trois ans au milieu desannees 80. EI articulo analiza la conexion que existeentre las practices religiosas de los viajeros y la Indole de su organizacion social. SoIamente poseernos descripciones imprecisas y analisis. campanento de caravanas de Londres (parte J) Hasta ahora se ha prestado poca atencion a las costumbres de los viajeros irlandeses. individuels et familiaux. EI autor fue en la decada de los 80 durante tres alios el director de este camping. Cette etude analyse a la lois les caracteristiques de Ill. voire merne contradictoires.inadecuados.C. etant donne qu' Us sont moins vislbles au monde exterieur que les rites eollectifs. hasta contradictorios. societe nomade et ses liens collectifs avec Ie monde exterieur. Le but decet article est deremedier a cette ituation en analysantles liens qui existent entre les pratiques religieuses de ces itinerants et la nature de leur organisation sociale . considerando tanto los vinculos que mantienen entre ellos como sus lazos colectivcs con el rnundo exterior.sur le plan individuel et familial. EI trabajo se basa en informacion adquirida durante dos afios de los residentes de un camping en Londres.C. au ils ell ont fait des descriptions et analysesmediocres.les mariages et les funerailles. et les couturnes des nomades irlandais. Griffin Resume La religion et l'organisation sociale des 'Travellers' campement Ii Londres (1 ere partie) irlandais habitant tm. EI proposito de este articulo es contrarestar esta situacion. tanto a nivel individual y familiar como a nivel colectivo y cornunitario. Se estudian en detalle los modos de expresion religosa.rarement sur la religion. Resumen La religion y la organizacion social de viajeros irlandeses de un.

M .Hi S . j ncludi ng those in Australia. France was followed.Griffin teaches anthropology at Edith Cowan University. Vagri peripatetics in South India.nLondon.griffin@ecu. Western Australi a.. He has done research among Travellers and Roma.edu. and communities on Fiji. in 1975.PhD researchin Provence. Penh.. E-mail: c.PEOPLES NS (2002) VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 .Religion and Social Organisation of Irish Travellers C. Fiji. by seven years at the University of the SouthPaoiflc.au 68 NOMADIC . Between 1983 and 1987 he worked as a Traveller site warden i.C.

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