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The context at national level was one of suddenly increasing prosperity. In neighbouring Britain the prime minister Harold Macmillan was boasting ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ A little later than Britain, prosperity was arriving in Ireland.

Increasingly from now on tin utensils would be replaced by plastic. Making and repairing tin vessels and goods of all sorts had been the staple of the Traveller economy for centuries.

A less credulous and more cynical generation had less time for fortune telling, a stable profession of the female Travellers.

Many other changes resulted from the replacement of the horse by the internal combustion engine. There was now getting to be less call for the seasonal work and the horse dealing and horse breaking that for so long had been so great a part of the Traveller economy.

The other important trends meant that the world recorded by Oppersdorft was disintegrating before his eyes.

Poverty, abject poverty, was increasingly becoming the lot of the travelling population of Ireland

In many respects, often living in an urban environment, often now in houses or on ‘official sites’ which are often now a sea of mud, travelling in lorries and cars rather than in carts or on horseback, living in tourist caravans rather than bow-top wagons, they seem very different to their parents and grandparents.

But are they? The odd thing is that the pictures taken in 1995, despite the great changes, carry much the same message.

The Traveller culture is strong, strong enough to survive even material changes as ferocious as those that have overwhelmed the Irish Traveller people.


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