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‘Insubordinate Irish’Travellers in the Text$
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Mícheál Ó hAodha

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780719083044

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719083044.001.0001

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Anti-Traveller prejudice: The narrative within the Irish imaginary

Anti-Traveller prejudice: The narrative within the Irish imaginary

(p.103) 8 Anti-Traveller prejudice: The narrative within the Irish imaginary
‘Insubordinate Irish’

Mícheál Ó hAodha

Manchester University Press

This chapter describes the influence of folktales in the Irish tradition, and their influence on popular beliefs and attitudes regarding Irish Travellers, also making links to similar folktales as they exist in the European tradition. The folktales discussed here are tales that are referred to as the ‘Nail’, ‘Pin’ and ‘Bar of Gold’ tales. The Traveller is accused of inhospitality and a lack of courtesy in the ‘Pin’ legend. The ‘Bar of Gold’ legend depicts the Traveller as an untrustworthy good-for-nothing who is always capable of sharp practice, while the ‘Nail’ legend accuses the Traveller of complicity in the worst crime anyone can commit: deicide. These narratives undoubtedly had a certain psychological power for their audience. Travellers are the instigators of a powerful form of symbolic inversion in which their ‘Other’ status is shown to be a disguise for their function as ‘holy people’ or shamans.

Keywords:   Irish Travellers, Pin legend, Bar of Gold, Nail legend, Irish tradition, folktales

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