Virginia native Rebecca Moseman received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1997 and her Master of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2001. She has worked in academia, private industry, and...
The Car Boys. Carrowbrowne Halting Site, Galway, Ireland.
Billy, Steven, and Paddy three Irish Traveler Boys from the Carrowbrowne Halting Site, use an abandoned car as their playground. The boys have no natural areas to play and so displayed their boredom, frustration, and aggression by destroying the car by standing atop it, laying across it, and hitting it with baseball bats. The Carrowbrowne halting site,is located on the outskirts of Galway city next to a waste management site. Although the site was intended to be temporary, it has now become their permanent area of living. The travelers feel they have been “left to die” and feel helpless since the city council has no plans to provide alternative housing or help with the rodent infestation, mold or poor conditions.
Alesha arrives back from school to Labre Park, her family's halting site. Labre Park – named after the patron saint of Travelers, St Benedict Joseph Labre, is the oldest in Ireland. Although the site was seen as a desirable place to live for the many traveler families that came from areas with no running water and electricity, it has now become a safety hazard to more than the 20 families that live there. Yet they fight hard to maintain their community since it has been threatened to be torn down in order to build new houses to be sold to the "settled Irish", which would displace many generations of Travelers that lived there since it was first established in 1967.
An older woman stands beside her daughter in the car as the three women primp themselves for the Ballinasloe Horse Fair Parade. The Ballinasloe Horse Fair is the oldest annual horse fair in Ireland. The Travelers attend the fair for the week to sell and trade their horses. It is traditional for the women and young women to dress up and parade themselves around the grounds to show off and attract future husbands.
The Carrowbrowne halting site, a rat-infested living area, is located on the outskirts of Galway city next to a waste management site. Although the site was intended to be temporary, it has now become their permanent area of living. The travelers feel they have been “left to die” and feel helpless since the city council has no plans to provide alternative housing or help with the rodent infestation mold or poor conditions. Since there are no natural areas for children to play they play outside of their family caravans in the street..
Young Traveler Mothers. Long Pavement Halting Site, Limerick Ireland.
Two traveler girls arrive home to their halting site after a trip to visit friends. Girls in the Traveler community are traditionally married off young and encouraged to have many children. There are strict rules for girls from the age of puberty until they are married, and many find the rules too confining. Some girls express their desire to “marry early to get freedoms”.
Ten Days Overdue. Labre Park Halting Site, Dublin Ireland.
A young traveler mother ten days overdue stands in the doorway of her trailer within Labre Park, a halting site outside of Dublin. The halting site is located next to electrical power plant, and many of the older Travelers who have lived there for many years suffer from brain tumors.
Diane is a traveler girl around the age of seven. She has eight brothers and sisters. Her family has lived within an illegal encampment (areas not officially approved by the Irish Government where Travelers are forced to live when they have nowhere else to go, usually alongside highways) for the past nine years. The family eagerly awaits the Irish Government's placement into a Halting Site (a government issued living area, monitored closely by the Irish police, that provides the travelers with a stationary home, running water and plumbing) since they currently live poorly, without water, or electricity. Despite the living conditions, many travelers prefer to live within the illegal encampments because they are proud of their nomadic traditions and resist the "settled" lifestyle of other Irish citizens.
A young traveler boy and his friends run around the Ballinasloe Horse Fair with his pellet gun. The fair has been a long Irish tradition and the travelers have been attending the fair for many years. They use the 9 day event to congregate and trade horses and goods. Many businesses within the town of Ballinasloe however choose to close for the week of the fair and/or refuse to service the travelers due to their reputations for trouble and past disturbances.
Christina with Dog. Ballysimon Halting Site, Limerick Ireland.
A young traveler girl plays on a makeshift playground within her halting site, alongside her dog who spends the day tied up. Many traveler halting sites do not have natural play areas and are often filled with junk so the children are forced to create their own areas to play.
A young Traveler girl sits in her family caravan within their roadside encampment. The Irish Government and Irish citizens fight against illegal encampment sites mainly due the rampant health issues caused by lack of health care, and rodents that infest the sites and pass diseases. This little girl sits in her family's unadorned caravan except for a portrait of Pope John II.
Philomena, a little traveler girl eats her dinner from a tray within her family's roadside encampment while her family dog begs for food. Traveler family's typically keep a lot of dogs around their encampments to kill off rodents and keep strangers away.
Faulkner Girls. Long Pavement Halting Site, Limerick Ireland.
Two young girls mimic their older sisters as they pose for the camera. Young girls are encouraged to marry early and have many children. Girls as young as eight start to dress and act proactively in order to attract men to gain their "freedom" from the restrictions of their parents and the Traveler community.
A traveler mother primps and prepares her children inside their van for the Ballinasloe Horse Fair. Many travelers come from all around Ireland to the fair to trade horses and sell goods. It is traditional for the girls to dress up and parade around the fair.
Two young girls show of their nails and outfits at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair. Girls as young as eight start to dress and act proactively in order to attract men to gain their "freedom" from the restrictions of their parents and the Traveler community.
Jonathan with Gun. Long Pavement Halting Site. Limerick, Ireland.
A young boy comes out of his family caravan to investigate a visitor to his halting site. The Travelers do not get a lot of visitors outside of family, friends and/or Irish case workers and police men.
A young pre-teen traveler girl dresses up to parade around the Ballinasloe Horse Fair with friends. It is tradition that the Traveler girls parade around to present themselves to the boys with hope of attracting a marriage proposal.
A group of traveler boys light bottle rockets during the Ballinasloe Horse Fair. The fair has been a long Irish tradition and the travelers have been attending the fair for many. They use the 9 day event to congregate and trade horses and goods. Many businesses within the town of Ballinasloe however choose to close for the week of the fair and/or refuse to service the travelers due to their reputations for trouble and past disturbances.
Philomena sits within her family car at an illegal encampment and watches through the window while her mother stops to visit with family. Many travelers have family members that live within their halting sites, while others choose to live traditionally as their nomadic ancestors have beside roadways. Some live in these illegal encampment sites temporarily while they wait for space within a halting site, which can take many years. Philomena. A little traveler girl who was feeling sick patiently waits for her mother from within the car.
Girl in Car. Labre Park Halting Site, Dublin Ireland.
A little girl arrives back to Labre Park halting site from school with her mother and baby brother. Many travelers of Labre Park are upset about the possibility that the town may tear down all the existing houses within their site and replace them with a community center, which will displace the traveler families that have lived there for years.
Two traveler girls stop on the street for the camera while parading around Ballinasloe. It is tradition that the Traveler girls parade around to present themselves to the boys in hopes they can attract a marriage proposal.
Traveler Boy at Labre Park. Labre Park Halting Site, Dublin Ireland.
A traveler boy from Labre Park talks about the unemployment problem within the Traveler community. There is wide spread discrimination toward the Travelers in general based on their unsavory reputations as thieves and troublemakers. The suicide rate is 6 times higher than the general population, and 7 times higher among young traveler men.
Chantal, one of 8 children sits on the couch in her family caravan. This encampment is located along the road and the children's only area to play is in the road itself. The neighboring people are aware of their presence and take caution not to hit the children while driving past their site.
Three teenage boys sit in their car at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair. It's common for traveler boys to drop out of school at 14 due to bullying from the "settled" Irish classmates. Most of them display bruised eyes and lips from fighting with their classmates.
Number 5 By The River. Labre Park Halting Site, Dublin Ireland.
Michael and his sister Alesha play in the dumping area beside a polluted stream on the backside of their halting site within Labre Park. The Labre Park halting site is plagued with many sanitation complaints but there is a lack of interest from the city council to fix the issues.
John, an old Irish Traveler. Halting Site, Limerick Ireland.
John lives alone in his caravan within a halting site outside of Limerick, Ireland.
Although he suffers from diabetes, and his toes have fallen off which hinders his ability to function easily he hobbles around to host his guests. On this day he spends the afternoon watching American western movies.
Maggie a teenage girl, arrives home from school to her roadside encampment. Most traveler boys and girls drop out of school at an early age because of bullying and lack of educational support in their own traveler community. Only 13% of traveler children complete second-level education compared to 92% of "settled" Irish.
Girl Power. Labre Park Halting Site, Dublin Ireland.
Three young traveler girls from Labre Park halting site outside of Dublin Ireland arrive home from school. There is a failure to act on the conditions of the halting site which are unsanitary and dangerous. An electrical fire broke out among many of the houses due to faulty wiring, and mildew and mold grow within their houses and bathrooms due to poor insulation and the damp weather.
JJ, a young teenage boy sits at the kitchen table within his family's caravan surrounded by family members as he asks questions about American life and trends. JJ lives within a deaf Traveler halting site community although he and his siblings are not deaf.
Cheynne in the Ivy. Roadside Encampment, Limerick Ireland.
A young traveler girl plays outside of her family caravan within a roadside encampment. There are no natural play areas for children in the encampment to play so they play in the streets or in makeshift areas around their family caravans.
Meghan, young teenage girl stands among the trash within the Labre Park halting site, outside of Dublin Ireland. Although there are multiple issues with sanitation, mold and mildew, and many of the house structures are falling apart Megan is just one of many travelers upset about the possibility that the town may tear down all the existing houses within their site and replace them with a community center, which will displace the traveler families that have lived there for years.
The Irish Travelers who were once referred to as “tinkers” or “gypsies” are an insular ethnic group that has lived on the fringes of mainstream Irish society for centuries. They live an itinerant lifestyle, with long traditions and gender-based roles that have been passed down from generation to generation. The Travelers today still speak the secret Traveler language, a dialect alternately known as Shelta, Gammon, or Cant, which includes elements of Irish Gaelic, English, Greek, and Hebrew. Sons commonly take over jobs or enter trades their fathers and grandfathers have practiced for hundreds of years. Daughters are encouraged to marry early, and families of eight to twelve children are not uncommon. Discrimination however is wide spread, school dropout rates are high, domestic violence is rampant, and suicides are ever increasing. Yet the lives of the Travelers are slowly changing in many positive ways. Recently recognized as an Indigenous Ethnic Group by the Irish Government, Traveler families are finding it easier to live in government-serviced halting sites rather than continue their nomadic lifestyles. Teenagers are trying harder to stay in school, graduate, pursue careers outside the Traveler community. Young women are waiting longer to marry and have children. Bit by bit, for better or worse, the Travelers are being assimilated. I first encountered the Irish Travelers through a photographic trip to Killaloe, County Clare. Although they have a savory reputation for violence and criminal behavior, I found them to be generally friendly, approachable, and tragically misunderstood. I think it’s important to document the Travelers as we know them today, to collect a photographic record of a unique people and their traditions before they disappear. Although there is great interest in the Travelers outside of Ireland, they remain invisible to the Irish citizens who consider them a nuisance to society. Nevertheless the travelers are desperate to have their stories of heritage and hardship told, to be respected and understood for where they’ve come from and who they are now. As a woman and as a non-Irish citizen, I’ve been able to connect with the Travelers in a unique way. I offer no threat nor judgement, just curiosity & a willingness to listen and understand them. I’m particularly interested in interviewing and photographing the Traveler women, who still assume very traditional roles within their communities and families. How do they feel about their place within the Traveler culture, while “settled” women in the outside world are experiencing liberation and fighting for equal treatment and rights. Do they feel conflicted and does this affect their expectations of their own daughters and granddaughters, and how they are raised. My goal is to bring awareness through my photography of the Traveler people, the discrimination they face daily, and to display the human qualities that make them the same as other Irish citizens yet celebrate the differences that make them unique. I hope to do this through publishing a book & articles in photography magazines with readership around the world.