There was and still is the opportunity for young women to avoid matches that they are not keen on through the practice of elopement or running away.
Traveller women have not accepted the notion, often perpetuated from the outside, that they are somehow victims of a culture and need to be saved from that.
“Years ago you were a tinsmith or you’d shoe horses for a living or you’d do the markets.
But everything like that is changed for Travellers. But then I started a trainer course where I learned how to read and write.
One of the ways in which the marriages were often handled in the past was through a process of match-making, which was part of the rural Irish tradition as well.
“The matchmaker was often an older male relative, although women were certainly in the background of the matchmaking processes.
This involved nine months of living in a campsite; in a trailer with a fluid number of families, some of whom came and went during that period.
We spoke with Professor Helleiner about her book and her work with Travellers. Matchmaking “The links of marriage are very important for a population that has often been dispersed.
When her parents married 47 years ago her mother was fifteen.
When Helen married her husband John they lived for three years with his brother in a caravan.
Helen Connors lives in Hazel Hill Halting Site, a new government experiment in Traveller housing on the lower slopes of Dublin Mountain, with her husband and two children. It had a 50 foot train it was all diamonds and lace. That’s a girl you just dress up to look just like yourself for the day.
Your mini bride has to look like you.” Helen grew up in a family of seventeen children.
Produced by The Kitchen Sisters & Mixed by Jim Mc Kee In collaboration with Nuala Macklin in Dublin, Nathan Dalton and Laura Folger Aired on April 29, 2010 on NPR’s Morning Edition Travellers. Nomads, moving in caravans, living in encampments on the side of the road.