Irish traveller dating customs

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ON being informed that consanguinity is, as a government-funded paper put it last week, "a central part of (Traveller) culture", many people could be forgiven for suspecting that the word must be an archaic one referring to the practice of terrifying the publicans of Mayo.

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And in-keeping with traveller traditions, youngsters are seen with their animals, from dogs to horses, with some snapped perching atop horse-drawn wagons.

Up to 40 per cent of all marriages involving Travellers are between first cousins, and the Traveller Consanguinity Working Group clearly does not intend doing anything to bring the total down.

"It is unrealistic to try to radically change their marriage behaviour," the report simply says, adding that whilst marriage between cousins may be considered "sleazy" in the West, it is common throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Because of their outsider status and migratory nature, few attended school and literacy was not widespread.

Much of what is known about the culture comes through stories told by singers and oral histories.


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