Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Visiting the Travellers

As it is Half term this week I replaced my school day by joining the Sister who has pastoral care over the travelling communities in the Diocese. I asked to have some involvement with the travellers when I began my placement because they seem to be an important aspect of pastoral life in my Diocese.

It wasn't what I expected at all. I was expecting large families living in tiny caravans but in actual fact each family has built a makeshift house and has a few caravans parked outside, so they live in the house but sleep in the caravans. New mothers also have a caravan each in order to bond with the babies.

Sister told me all sorts of scary stories so I was very nervous at first but really enjoyed the experience when I discovered it was no different to visiting ordinary homes. The women were very hospitable. The men were a little suspicious, they are very protective of their property (which includes their women and children). However, when they saw me with Sister they assumed I was a priest and apologised.

They are in great need of prayers. They are hated by the local community and ignored by the local councils. The local school is populated entirely by travellers because the locals won't send their children there. They go over to Ireland every Christmas and the locals go and destroy their site. The road leading up to the site is treacherous but the council won't repair it because they are travellers.

Their culture is fascinating. Only the first generation were born and raised in Ireland, all generations beyond that were born in England, yet they all have Irish accents. This is simply because they pronounce words as they hear them and they don't meet English people as they rarely leave the site.

I had a very positive experience and look forward to visiting another site some time in the future.


Jackie Parkes said...

Very the Irish accents!

gemoftheocean said...

For a second there, I thought you meant the Club!

[Shades of Balleykissangel, season 1, episode 2.]

miss book said...

Have met a number of traveller families at youth2000 events-they show great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and, especially, to Our Lady.

Christian said...

Tinkers are thieves and their lifestyle is one in which they are taught to be criminals from birth. I live near a sight and they are so violent that the police will not retrieve stolen vans from their sight for fear of reprisals.

Of course the Church must serve these sinners like it serves all other sinners but the fact that they are particularly wicked and damaging to the local community should never, ever be forgotten.