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IRISH TRAVELERS - Experts shed light on reclusive, nomadic clans that roam the country
Associated Press ... live news feed | September 25, 2002 | LISA FALKENBERG

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?''

AP-ES-09-25-02 0610EDT


TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Philosophy; US: Indiana; US: South Carolina; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: abuse; baby; camera; crime; gypsies; gypsy; irishtravelers; nomads; scam; toogood; travelers; violence
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1 posted on 09/25/2002 7:58:25 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Siobhan; american colleen; sinkspur; livius; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp; narses; ...
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.''

Have any of you encountered these people at mass?

2 posted on 09/25/2002 8:01:21 AM PDT by NYer
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To: NYer
I think I HAVE encountered people like these, but not as Catholics, and not in the East. Right here in California, and about 35 years ago. I was living in a small house on a lot with a larger house, and there were about twelve people living there. I was never able to discern who "belonged" to whom; they were all just "there."

They had a decidedly "midwestern" air about them; sort of like offspring of the "dust bowl" immigrants of the thirties. One morning they were just gone. Vanished.

Upon inspecting the "garage" areas, we found thousands of cancelled checks, and unwritten checkbooks, with hundreds of different names. It was very weird.

3 posted on 09/25/2002 8:08:29 AM PDT by EggsAckley
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To: NYer
Click on Gypsy Criminal Groups at left. The entire site is a keeper.
4 posted on 09/25/2002 8:08:50 AM PDT by ofMagog
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To: NYer
an almost ``pathologic'' devotion to Catholicism

AP connects the dots:

1) Pathologic devotion to Catholicism = devout Catholic

2) Pathologic devotion to Catholicism = nomadic theif

3) Devout Catholic = nomadic thief.

Q.E.D.

5 posted on 09/25/2002 8:10:53 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: NYer
No. Can't say that I have. Although, I do know a fair number of people of Irish heritage who have gaudy or plainly bad taste (one of my grandmothers for one).

Is this the American version of gypsies?
6 posted on 09/25/2002 8:12:14 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: NYer
Hancock and other academics said they believe Toogood's case has been sensationalized by the media because of her ethnicity.

Arggggh, it has nothing to do with ethnicity! It's the violence, the crime. Duh, Mr. Hancock. Liberal academic types just can't drop their race card mentalities.

7 posted on 09/25/2002 8:19:01 AM PDT by Lil'freeper
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To: Aquinasfan
This lady is Catholic like "Catholics for Choice" are Catholic.
8 posted on 09/25/2002 8:20:01 AM PDT by Andyman
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To: NYer
"Hancock and other academics said they believe Toogood's case has been sensationalized by the media because of her ethnicity."

Boy, oh boy! Playing the race card. From my tv news sources: CNN, MSNBC and Fox, they all ignored her Irish Traveller connection, except for the past couple of days on Fox.

9 posted on 09/25/2002 8:21:31 AM PDT by Kermit
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To: Desdemona
Travelers are like gypsies. Either one can follow you into a revolving door and come out in front of you.
10 posted on 09/25/2002 8:25:46 AM PDT by Wurlitzer
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To: ofMagog
Very cool the way that page opens and closes
11 posted on 09/25/2002 8:27:16 AM PDT by paul51
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To: NYer
I don't know if my facts are correct, but I think I saw a "Dateline NBC" or some other "newsmagazine" show do a story on "Travellers", such as seem to be described here. It also included a pagent-like event where young girls were dressed IMHO as 20's flapper girls and paraded around to be considered for future matramonial prospects. If this was a different group of "travellers", please forgive me. If not, this treating of young girls as virtual property shows how this kind of beating could be seen as okay, and all those saying she should go to a family member need to think again.
12 posted on 09/25/2002 8:27:26 AM PDT by Kazuki
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To: Wurlitzer
So, are they anything like the gypsies on the Paris Metro? I had to slap a hand once when it found its way into my purse, which was purposefully empty.
13 posted on 09/25/2002 8:29:14 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: NYer
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?''

Of all the scurrilous crap for them to end the story with. If the "case has been sensationalized by the media" it's because it's on video. Any beating on video, especially of an apparent innocent (like, most clearly, a 4-year-old) is going to get a lot of airplay.

Now, because most people have never even heard of her ethnic background (and I would argue that Irish Travelers are a behavioural subset of an ethnicity), it gets some mention. But that's not "profiling." Obviously, she wasn't videotaped because of ethnic profiling or bigotry on the part of the mall, and she wasn't looked for or arrained because of her ethnicity either.

14 posted on 09/25/2002 8:29:19 AM PDT by DWPittelli
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To: Lil'freeper
Children are beaten to death every day, and it never gets any attention. It seems to me that it wasn't the violence or the crime, it was the video camera.
15 posted on 09/25/2002 8:32:38 AM PDT by stop_fascism
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To: Aquinasfan
What the article should have pointed out was that they are devoted to a perverted distortion of Catholicism which permits them to steal by direct permission from Jesus. From what I've read, they are not affiliated with any church and they pass the cult on through oral teaching from generation to generation.

16 posted on 09/25/2002 8:33:17 AM PDT by Oregon W.oman
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To: stop_fascism
That too!
17 posted on 09/25/2002 8:33:37 AM PDT by Lil'freeper
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To: NYer
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

Oh come on. Any nomadic, insular society will have more criminals precisely because such a lifestyle makes detection much less likely. This is the same reason the anonymity of the city allows for more con-men and other criminals who face their victim, whereas stable, non-nomadic, smaller societies will have very few con-men, robbers and other visible criminals, because people know each other, where they live and how to find them.

18 posted on 09/25/2002 8:34:13 AM PDT by DWPittelli
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To: paul51
Toogood's "confession" is a part of their culture as defined in the above link:

"Regarding non-Gypsy law: They are obeyed but they are not complied with. Gypsies never fight against constituted authority; they simply agree to do what they are told to do, pretend to accept the assumptions of the stronger party and then, in their time-honored way, they keep on doing what they have always done..."

19 posted on 09/25/2002 8:34:33 AM PDT by ofMagog
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To: Desdemona
"So, are they anything like the gypsies on the Paris Metro? I had to slap a hand once when it found its way into my purse, which was purposefully empty. "

You are obviously a smart person to have emptied you purse. I don't know enough about either group to say anything other than they have more than their share of Con-Men and Con-Women.

20 posted on 09/25/2002 8:34:48 AM PDT by Wurlitzer
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To: Kazuki
I had an encounter with gypsies when my father was in the hospital several years ago. The grandmother of the group was also in intensive care, and we had to share the ICU waiting room with them.

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."

Yikes!!

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.

21 posted on 09/25/2002 8:35:00 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: Wurlitzer
You are obviously a smart person to have emptied you purse.

I've been accused of many things in my life. Stupid is not one of them. The pick-pockets are much worse over there.
22 posted on 09/25/2002 8:38:00 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: NYer
Have any of you encountered these people at mass?

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.

23 posted on 09/25/2002 8:39:58 AM PDT by sinkspur
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To: Desdemona
"Is this the American version of gypsies?"

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'.

24 posted on 09/25/2002 8:40:07 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
That was a rhetorical question.
25 posted on 09/25/2002 8:45:41 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: Andyman
Oh come on! Admit that you have no idea if she is pro-choice or pro-life! Your assumption is really quite a REACH!

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.

26 posted on 09/25/2002 8:45:57 AM PDT by CometBaby
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To: Oregon W.oman
they are not affiliated with any church and they pass the cult on through oral teaching from generation to generation.

Probably goes back to experience in Ireland when Catholicism was outlawed and religion was passed on orally via schenacies.
In fact, the only place you could legally celebrate a Catholic mass in English in the 1730s was right here in Philadelphia.
27 posted on 09/25/2002 8:46:02 AM PDT by dyed_in_the_wool
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To: Desdemona
"That was a rhetorical question."

Okay. The answer is still no.

28 posted on 09/25/2002 8:48:50 AM PDT by blam
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To: ofMagog
"Regarding non-Gypsy law: They are obeyed but they are not complied with. Gypsies never fight against constituted authority; they simply agree to do what they are told to do, pretend to accept the assumptions of the stronger party and then, in their time-honored way, they keep on doing what they have always done..."

I'm just waiting for someone to make a reference to Libertarians.

29 posted on 09/25/2002 8:49:47 AM PDT by TrappedInLiberalHell
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To: Desdemona
So, are they anything like the gypsies on the Paris Metro? I had to slap a hand once when it found its way into my purse, which was purposefully empty.

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!

30 posted on 09/25/2002 8:50:28 AM PDT by NYer
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To: ofMagog
they simply agree to do what they are told to do, pretend to accept the assumptions of the stronger party and then, in their time-honored way, they keep on doing what they have always done

Hey, wait a minute. I have a teenager like that!

31 posted on 09/25/2002 8:50:40 AM PDT by paul51
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To: paul51
Does it work for the kid?
32 posted on 09/25/2002 8:52:33 AM PDT by ofMagog
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To: Desdemona
Nobody outside the Travellers knows that much about them. There are a lot of highly speculative theories as to their origins, but very little fact.

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 !

33 posted on 09/25/2002 8:54:25 AM PDT by genefromjersey
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To: NYer

I fuc*ing hate Pikeys...

34 posted on 09/25/2002 8:54:57 AM PDT by Geronimo
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To: NYer
Bless the individual who invented the money belt.

And skirts with REALLY deep pockets that can be hidden under long, tunic type shirts. I learned every trick in the book on that trip. Locks for the backpack, etc.
35 posted on 09/25/2002 8:55:10 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: ofMagog
Does it work for the kid?

Ha Ha. Sure, until she realizes she needs something from me.

36 posted on 09/25/2002 8:57:23 AM PDT by paul51
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To: NYer
These people do not have enough melanin to qualify for Politicaly Correct Victim Protection sympathy in any form.
37 posted on 09/25/2002 8:58:21 AM PDT by Blue Screen of Death
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To: genefromjersey; blam
Uh, guys, I know a whole lot about the European gypsies. Comes from reading just WAYYYYY too much.

Granted, they're different in some ways, they still are tribal, have oral history, speak their own language and are nomadic. That could also, from time to time, apply to my family.
38 posted on 09/25/2002 8:58:38 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: Oregon W.oman
From what I've read, they are not affiliated with any church and they pass the cult on through oral teaching from generation to generation.

Sounds like something from the X-files. Real life is stranger than fiction.

39 posted on 09/25/2002 9:01:12 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: genefromjersey
Some more info on Irish Travellers --

Irish Travellers

Apparently, they aren't Gypsies/Roma at all -- they are native Irish who became nomadic long ago.

40 posted on 09/25/2002 9:03:31 AM PDT by Rytwyng
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To: Kazuki
I saw it.....you're right about the little girls.
41 posted on 09/25/2002 9:11:13 AM PDT by mommybain
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To: Rytwyng
hmmm. Being from the Black Dutch (actually Black German, since the anglos in this country thought "deutsche" meant "dutch") nomads, I am leery of the negative stereotyping of the travellers. Some are tumbleweeds, some put down roots. Like in any ethnic group, some are opportunistic viruses, some are healing herbs.
42 posted on 09/25/2002 9:33:29 AM PDT by telltaleheart
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To: NYer
This is a puff piece put out by this proff., who is shilling for this group of criminals. The cr@p about being persecuted 100 years ago being their excuse for being a close society now is meant to draw pitty and excuse their criminal behaviour. I don't buy it. Put the screws to them like they do to every one of their victims - no remorse.
43 posted on 09/25/2002 9:47:34 AM PDT by anymouse
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To: Rytwyng
How very interesting! These must have been for the nomads in some of Anne McCafferey's fiction (Pern).
44 posted on 09/25/2002 9:48:29 AM PDT by Lil'freeper
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To: Lil'freeper
Orson Scott Card's tinkers, too.
45 posted on 09/25/2002 9:49:28 AM PDT by Lil'freeper
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To: All
There was a group of self proclaimed gypsies in my area. It was a large group with mostly the same last name. They travelled back and fourth between the Chicago 'burbs and Terre Haute Indiana.

After a few years they became notorious in the area for the sealcoating scam. This is where they would knock on your door and tell you they had sealcoating materials left over from a job down the street and they could give a great discount on your driveway. They would actually thin the sealcoating mixture to where it wouldn't last but a few days. The local police chased them from the area a couple years ago.

They all spoke a language they called "Rumley". I couldn't describe what language it was derived from.
46 posted on 09/25/2002 9:49:36 AM PDT by Cynderbean
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To: Desdemona
So, are they anything like the gypsies on the Paris Metro?

They were really bad on the Metro. My father had a guy stick his hand in his pants pocket trying to get some money when it was really crowded on the train, but he took the guy's hand away and told him in French to stop. The guy took on the classic "I'm a victim" attitude and we got off the train at the next stop, thankfully.

If you think they are bad in Paris, go to Milan and hang around a city park. Wow. There the kids do most of the dirty work while the adults lounge around and watch for the police. They will come up to you in groups of 6-8, mostly girls about 8-10 years old, and one or two will distract you trying to point out something in a day-old newspaper or something while the others are swarming around you trying to find your pants pocket or valuables in a backpack. Then POOF! as soon as the Carrabinieri turn the corner to patrol the park the kids and adults both disappear like a mist. It's amazing. They work really hard at stealing, if they just took up a normal line of work they would probably have an easier life.

Also, I think the Travellers in this country don't bother with pesky little things like paying taxes and such. That's why the law is usually after them, aside from the con artist aspect.

47 posted on 09/25/2002 9:53:15 AM PDT by webstersII
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To: webstersII
If you think they are bad in Paris, go to Milan and hang around a city park.

I thought they were just as bad in Rome. In Florence, it was more panhandling than anything else. In Europe, period, you just have to be careful.
48 posted on 09/25/2002 9:56:32 AM PDT by Desdemona
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To: telltaleheart
I wasn't "stereotyping". I myself am 5/8th Irish, and I bear no hostility whatsoever to my ethnic kin (or anyone else's) who were driven to nomadism by the misfortunes of centuries past. BTW, one of my nephews is an adopted orphan Russian Roma boy -- and a really great kid.
49 posted on 09/25/2002 9:57:12 AM PDT by Rytwyng
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To: CometBaby
Read my post. She is Catholic like "Catholics For Choice" are Catholics. This means THEY ARE NOT CATHOLICS. Or, if you prefer, CINO (Catholics In Name Only).

Anyone who commits fraud and theft (not to mention beating her own child) yet goes to mass weekly (perhaps accepting reconciliation weekly too) is in no way a true Catholic.

50 posted on 09/25/2002 10:23:50 AM PDT by Andyman
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