It is thought that Irish Travellers are descendents of itinerant craftsmen and metal workers known as Tinkers (now considered a derogatory term); they may also have descended from wandering musicians and storytellers. Other scholars place the descendents of Irish Travellers further back in history, to pre-Celtic times. Many Irish families were dispossessed of their homes during Cromwell’s oppression and at later times, during the potato famine, these events may also have led to an increase in families adopting a nomadic lifestyle. Irish travellers share their own, distinct language, Gammon or Cant.
In the 1960s, domestic policies in Eire lead to the migration of many Irish Travellers to the UK. During the period of rapid transport expansion in the second half of the twentieth century, many men came over to work on the motorways and later as labourers for local councils as well as scrap-metal dealers. There can be confusion from the settled population by ascribing Irish Travellers as Romanies; however, despite centuries of co-existence, cultural interchange and limited intermarriage, these remain distinct peoples and communities.