Friday, 4 June, 2021
Share This:

Tracing Irish Traveller family history can be extra challenging due to the lack of written records. However, there are clues to be found that can point to Irish Traveller ancestry, and a number of resources to help people discover more.

Researching Irish Traveller Ancestors

This resource is a work in progress; please feel free to add recommendations and suggestions to this message board thread.

An Lucht Siúil (Traveling Folk lit. the Walking People) or Travellers can refer to a variety of people who lived life on the road. Irish Travellers aka Mincéir aka Pavee are a distinct Irish ethnic group with their own customs, language and traditions. Many live in the UK for all or part of the year. They are a recognised ethnic minority group.


Irish Traveller culture and ancestry

Irish Travellers are a separate cultural group that started migrating to Britain in the early 19th century and can be traced back to 12th century Ireland. 

Population structure & History of Irish travellers

Genetic research found that Irish Travellers are of Irish origin and have significant genetic makeup compared to their settled community. An estimated 40,000 Travellers (less than 1% of the population) are living in Ireland today. Although sometimes called gypsies, they have no genetic relation to Romani

Gene study reveals Irish Travellers' ancestry

The Celtic Travellers DNA project is for descendants and members and of Irish Travellers, Highland Scottish Travellers, Lowland Scottish Travellers, Fairground Travellers and other Non-Romani travelling families. However, Roma or mixed Traveller heritage are also welcome to join.

Celtic Travellers DNA Project


Searching Census & Vital Records for clues

Clues that can suggest Traveller ancestry include:

Occupations: tinker, tinman, tinsmith, whitesmith, dealer, pedlar, horse dealer, basket maker, peg maker, knife grinder/ sharpener, hawker, musician, and sometimes labourer.

Place of Birth: All the children in the family being born in different places is also a big clue. 

Residence: Unusual residences such as "tent on common"

Irish Gypsies and Irish Travellers are distinct ethnic groups often referred to in parish registers as 'Pavees' or 'Minceir'. 


Irish Traveller Genealogy Resources

Here is a list of useful resources to help you trace Irish Traveller or Mincéir ancestors:

TravellerHeritage.ie

https://www.paveepoint.ie/PaveePoint.ie

UK

The Romany & Traveller Family History Society

Travellers Times

RomaHeritage.co.uk | GypsyWagons.co.uk | Gypsy Genealogy

Special Collections: Liverpool | Leeds | Reading | Surrey | Sussex 


IrelandXO Message Board

The IrelandXO message board can be a great resource for finding out more about Irish Traveller family histories and connecting with other descendants. Click on the links to read some interesting message board threads:


IrelandXO Traveller Timelines


Irish Traveller Buildings & Places


Irish Traveller Photo Collections


Common Irish Traveller Family Names

Berry, Brown, Cash, Carmody, Carthy, Casey, Cassidy, Cawley, Clark, Collins, Connors, Conroy, Corcoran, Cunningham, Delaney, Doherty, Donoghue/ O’Donoghue, Donovan, Doran, Dunne, Flynn, Furey, Gallagher, Green, Hanafin/Hannifin, Hand, Hanley, Hanrahan, Harper, Hennessey, Joyce, Keating, Keenan, Kerrigan, Kiely, Lawrence, Lee, Lynch, Maguire, Malone, Maloney, Maughan, Mongan, Moorehouse McCarthy, MacDonald, McDonagh, MacDonnell, MacAleer, McCann, McDonnell, McGinley, McInerney, MacLoughlin, McRea, Nevin, Nolan, O’Donnell, O’Reilly/ Reilly, Power, Purcell, Price, Quinn, Stokes, Sweeney, Ward, Wall, Windrum.


​Famous Irish Traveller Ancestors 

Sean Connery's ancestor: James Connery born circa 1840

Margaret Barry born 1917

Maggie Barry


The Duchás Folklore Collection

Between 1937 and 1939, primary school pupils across the Republic of Ireland interviewed the elderly in their neighborhood to collect and record local stories and folklore from the 19th century. "The Schools Collection" as it became known is held by the Dúchas Folklore Collection in UCD and is and has been digitized online at duchas.ie. One of the topics schoolchildren were asked to write about were "Travelling Folk" or An Lucht Siúil. Click here to read a selection of what "settled" children wrote about travelers in the late 1930s.


Are you descended from Irish Travellers? Add their story to the IrelandXO website and connect with other descendants living all around the world. 

Add an ancestor