You say Traveller, I say Gypsy

I have the blood of Irish Travellers running through my veins.

Sometimes referred to as “Irish Gypsies”, Travellers are not genetically related to the Romani although both are nomadic societies. It’s very common to refer to Travellers as “Irish Travelers” as their origins can be traced to a sub-society in Ireland. A 2001 study showed that Irish Travellers are a distinct Irish ethnic minority – and have been for at least 1000 years.
Today, Travellers (aka Mincéirs or Pavees) are fairly concentrated in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and some parts of Northern America. In 2017 they were recognized as a distinct ethnic group in British and Irish law. Where once horse-drawn wagon caravans were de rigueur they have given way to mobile homes pulled by motor vehicles. Pavees also have a long history of dog and horse-breeding. (One of the traits I did not inherit.)

Famous Travellers include: Patrick “Paddy” Doherty, Tyson Fury (“The Gypsy King”), Paddy Keenan, and Sean Connery. The character of Mickey O’Neil (played by Brad Pitt) in Snatch is an Irish Traveller.

I’m told this is where my ability to read Tarot cards comes from. Fortune telling. I also have a predilection for cursing – and I’m not talking about using foul language (Although I have a propensity for that at times, too.) – which appears to have been popular with Travellers in Ireland (beggar’s curse).

Bad cess on you. Devil take you. May you never prosper. The first drop of water to quench your thirst — may it boil in your bowels. May the flesh rot off your bones, and fall away putrid before your eyes. May your limbs wither and the stench of your rotten carcass be too horrible for hungry dogs. May you fade into nothing, like snow in summer. May you be accursed in the sight of God, and hated by your fellow man. May you die without a priest. May the Almighty’s curse rest on your children. This, I pray.

More interesting to me are “Cursing Stones” perhaps because I like to put things down in writing. Ireland boasts of the greatest collection of wishing and cursing stones anywhere in the world – the Blarney Stone being the most famous.

A Cursing Stone

Just as Pavees (or Irish Travellers / Gypsies) represent an ethnic minority within the British Isles, Pavee Wizards are, very much, a minority among the wizarding community. Most Pavee Wizards demonstrate a distinct mixture of the culture of both the Pavee and Magical worlds.

All Pavee Wizards can trace their lineage back to a handful of wizards who, during these times, left the settled life and chose to intermarry with Irish Travellers. Over many generations of marrying muggles, what wizarding genetic material there was became increasingly dilute. In the modern era, the wizarding blood is so dilute in most Pavees that Pavee Wizards are even less prevalent in the Irish Traveller populations than Wizards are in the population of Britain as a whole.

[source]


Although Britain counts many more witches in their history than does Ireland, the Emerald Isle does have a few famous ones of their own. (Although none were “Irish Gypsies” I thought it would be appropriate enough to include them in this Post. Being that I’m Irish and all. And a witch…)

  • Florence Newton (fl. 1661) – also known as the “Witch of Youghal”.
  • Bridget Ellen “Biddy” Early (née O’Connor or Connors; 1798–1872) was a traditional Irish herbalist who dared act against the wishes of the local tenant farmer landlords, who then accused her of witchcraft.
  • Dame Alice Kyteler (1263–later than 1325) was the first recorded person condemned for witchcraft in Ireland. (My guess is that she was condemned for her BEAUTY.)
  • Petronilla de Meath (1300-1324). Maidservant of Dame Alice Kyteler, she was charged with being one of Alice’s accomplices and eventually burnt at the stake on November 3, 1324 – the first known case in Ireland or Great Britain of death by fire for the crime of heresy. (Another great beauty and I’m seeing a pattern here…)
  • The Witches of Islandmagee In March 1711, eight women were put on trial and found guilty of witchcraft. The women were put in stocks and then jailed for one year. The Islandmagee witch trial is believed to have been the last witch trial to take place in Ireland.
  • Bridget Cleary (née Boland; 1869–15 March 1895). In 1895, believing that she had been abducted by fairies, Bridget Cleary’s husband killed her and claimed that he only killed the changeling which had been left in her place by the fairies. Bridget was either burned to death by her husband or he set fire to her body immediately following the murder. Either way, the trial received extensive press coverage.

Casting the “evil eye”.

ℳ –

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