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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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To: Kazuki
I saw'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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To: Rytwyng
Very interesting. My Welsh grandmother used to always say, "you little tinker" as in "you little rascal."
51 posted on 09/25/2002 10:25:58 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: NYer
``As bad as what she did, and it's inexcusable, I still think there's an awful lot of profiling going on,'' Hancock said.

Ian Hancock has way too much time on his hands, and suffering a severe case of victim envy. Meee! Meee! Profile me! Please!!!

Gypsies are the Rodney Dangerfields of ethnic groups. I mean, the gays have more exhibit space at the Holocaust museums than the Gypsies.

52 posted on 09/25/2002 10:32:45 AM PDT by Alouette
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To: NYer
I want to see ALL their IRS statements. How can they pay taxes on all that income without a home address?
53 posted on 09/25/2002 10:45:25 AM PDT by Uncle George
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To: Rytwyng
Apparently, they aren't Gypsies/Roma at all -- they are native Irish who became nomadic long ago.

I have a hard time believing this. I have had a bit of contact with both Gypsies and Travellers. Their languages have distinct similarities. The pictures on the link you provided show horse drawn wagons just like the Gypsy wagons of generations ago. Both Gypsies and Travellers also used to use tents with an almost identical hoop configuration as the wagons they used.

IMO, there is ample evidence that they have a common background that split many generations ago.

54 posted on 09/25/2002 11:00:10 AM PDT by Ghengis
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To: Miss Marple
I had an encounter with gypsies when my father was in the hospital several years ago.

This wasn't in Columbus, Ohio, was it?

55 posted on 09/25/2002 11:01:21 AM PDT by Ghengis
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To: Blue Screen of Death
Pigmentally challenged?
56 posted on 09/25/2002 11:03:30 AM PDT by luckodeirish
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To: NYer
There was a Hollywood movie in 1997 about the Travellers that wasn't half bad (but died at the box office):

A couple of callers to local radio stations mentioned that it was members of the Irish Travellers who ran a scam against Disney for the supposed rape of one of their women in a Disney park hotel by some unknown person. The woman was beaten up. I remember the case and think that before it was going to be settled it came out that the woman's brother had beat her up and that no rape ever happened and it was all a scam to get millions of Disney. I can find mentions of the case on the net, but not the whole story.
Does anyone else remember this story, or can someone do a Nexus search?
57 posted on 09/25/2002 11:17:19 AM PDT by BansheeBill
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To: BansheeBill
Remember that as well. Disney World, the hotel there. Said she was beaten and raped. Was beaten and had been sexually assaulted (beaten by brother, I think and sex with her husband/boyfriend). Disney caught her somehow when her versions didn't match up.
58 posted on 09/25/2002 11:26:38 AM PDT by IYAS9YAS
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To: NYer
This article made my blood boil. How did a case of child abuse all of a sudden become a "racial" issue?????? Un-frigging-believable.
59 posted on 09/25/2002 11:36:19 AM PDT by FeliciaCat
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To: NYer
They no more represent Catholics than they do Americans.
60 posted on 09/25/2002 11:42:48 AM PDT by Barnacle
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