Skip to comments.IRISH TRAVELERS - Experts shed light on reclusive, nomadic clans that roam the country
Posted on 09/25/2002 7:58:25 AM PDT by NYer
DALLAS (AP) _ The tearful testimonial Madelyne Gorman Toogood gave in front of glaring TV cameras after she was videotaped beating her daughter was starkly uncharacteristic of the reclusive, media-shy Irish Travelers culture to which she belongs, experts say. Toogood, who was caught beating her 4-year-old daughter, Martha, in a department store parking lot, said she is a member of the clannish, nomadic culture of Irish descendants, most of whom came to the United States as refugees during the potato famine in the 1840s. ``By nature, they're very reclusive people,'' said Joe Livingston, a South Carolina state investigator who has been tracking Travelers for nearly two decades. ``They tend to shy away from publicity.''
Some law enforcement experts who have studied the culture paint it as a secret society, fond of material wealth evidenced by gaudy jewelry and new vehicles. Police often associate Travelers with scams involving fraudulent home repair that target the elderly. They tend to use aliases, carry bogus identification cards, and avoid contact with non-Travelers, whom they call ``country folk,'' authorities said.
But professors and academics said the reclusiveness is a defense mechanism against stereotypes and the ancient persecution that has haunted nomadic peoples throughout history. Travelers, who may be Irish, English, or Scottish, have no more criminals among them than any other ethnic culture, experts said. ``If there were, they could not sustain their living,'' said Larry Otway, who began studying Irish Travelers in 1977 and has worked as a paralegal and adviser on court cases involving Scottish travelers. What the clans in the culture do share, Otway said, is a nomadic lifestyle, a language called ``Scelta'' with roots in Gaelic and Romani, an almost ``pathologic'' devotion to Catholicism, and an anti-bureaucratic form of self government that he describes as a ``consensus democracy.''
The largest Traveler settlement is a group of 3,000 in Murphy Village, S.C., experts said. Toogood is believed to belong to the Greenhorn Carrolls, a Traveler group in the Fort Worth area. Estimates of the U.S. Traveler population vary from 20,000 to 100,000. Ian F. Hancock, a professor at the University of Texas who wrote the Irish Travelers entry for the Encyclopedia of the South, said a distraught Toogood called him Thursday seeking advice. ``She was scared to turn herself in because she knows very well how the police feel about the Irish Travelers,'' said Hancock, who has a reputation as a sympathizer of the group. ``She didn't think she'd get a fair shake and she knew she'd been rough with the child.''
Toogood, who also has two young sons, remains free on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 7. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison. She was scheduled to have a 90-minute supervised meeting with her daughter on Tuesday but the child, who is in foster care, was sick. An attorney for the state said Toogood would be allowed to see Martha on Wednesday if the girl has recovered from the flu.
Hancock and other academics said they believe Toogood's case has been sensationalized by the media because of her ethnicity. ``As bad as what she did, and it's inexcusable, I still think there's an awful lot of profiling going on,'' Hancock said. ``Very much is being made of her ethnic background. If she were German American or Italian American, would that even be an issue?''
Lots of them showed up with children and NO TOYS or anything to keep the children occupied. The children were expected to sit and not bother. One got out of line, and the mother said to her(pointing at me)"See that woman over there? She is a policewoman and she has a gun in her purse. If you aren't good, she will shoot you."
They were also deliberately vulgar, belching and spitting in the wastebaskets. They tried to make us leave, but as my dad had had heart surgery I wasn't going anywhere.
I think the children live hard lives, and are old at a young age. In our area, we notice that the little girls, as young as 4 or 5, wear full make-up and are dressed very jazzy for their ages.
The Greenhorn Carrolls attend St. Patrick's Cathedral in downtown Ft. Worth. According to the associate pastor there, Fr. Dennis Smith, they are very generous and faithful about attending Mass, but do tend to put the arm on parishioners as they're leaving Mass, asking for "coins" for the bus, then drive away in Cadillas Escalades. Most of the parishioners are on to them, however.
No. Gypsies are originally from the Indus Valley. They were given (10k at a time), by their king, to the Iranians thousands of years ago as servants. As they migrated around, the first encountered by the Europeans had migrated from Egypt. The Europeans wrongly thought that they were Egyptians and called them 'Gypsies'.
Are you actually suggesting that if someone is labeled as a "Devout Catholic" that means they are pro-choice? Are you presenting her two children as evidence that she aborts? Your logic escapes me.
Ack!! I cannot believe I am defending this lousy, childbeating Traveler monster .. but I could not allow your ridiculous conclusion about Catholics, to go unchallenged.
Okay. The answer is still no.
I'm just waiting for someone to make a reference to Libertarians.
Bless the individual who invented the money belt. The European gypsies, I believe, are originally from Romania. They are scattered all over the large cities and often use their children to scam the tourists. Americans are suckers for kids!
Hey, wait a minute. I have a teenager like that!
For instance,their original Gaelic-based language is, in this country, no longer much in use - according to a gentleman who apparently knows them quite well .English,spoken with a Southern accent, is pretty much what you'll hear.
The Travellers are unrelated to the Gypsies. Gypsies are SAID to have originated in India, and speak a language which has "Indo-European" roots. In Ireland,both groups are migratory . In the USA, both groups tend to settle in close-knit communities, and travel to their working areas.
Some say the Travellers are honest tradesmen, whose reputation is spoiled by a few "bad apples". Others say MOST Travellers are bad apples.
My own guess -and it is strictly a guess-is that a society which chooses to keep itself apart, and which is not fond of "outside authority" , will not take it too much amiss if some of its members do questionable things in "the outside world". It may even celebrate the more outrageous "scores" - just as the old Irish clans, in pre-Christian,pre-Roman days , used to celebrate a successful bit of cattle rustling...as long as the activity was not conducted in their own back yards !
I fuc*ing hate Pikeys...
Ha Ha. Sure, until she realizes she needs something from me.
Sounds like something from the X-files. Real life is stranger than fiction.
Apparently, they aren't Gypsies/Roma at all -- they are native Irish who became nomadic long ago.