STSG - Sligo Traveller Support Group

Irish Travellers

Travellers are a minority ethnic group, documented as being part of Irish society for centuries. Travellers have a long shared history and value system, their own language, customs and traditions. The distinctive Traveller lifestyle and culture, based on a nomadic tradition, sets Travellers apart from the sedentary population or 'settled people'.

While Irish Travellers are native to Ireland, they have much in common with European Travellers and Gypsies. For example - a nomadic tradition, living in extended families and European Gypsies also have to resist attempts to absorb them into the settled population, in order to retain their identity.


There is a lack of information on Travellers' lives and experiences. As a result the discrimination and exclusion that Travellers experience is often invisible to policy and decision makers. This makes it difficult to develop policies to combat discrimination. Adequate data is necessary for proper planning of services.

It is also important that any information on ethnic groups is collected within an equality framework. This means that the benefits, in terms of equality, are understood - not only by those collecting the data but also by those providing the data.

Population Structure

According to the 2011 Census the number of people enumerated as Irish Travellers has increased by 32 per cent.

The Irish Traveller population stood at 29,573 in 2011, the census revealed, up from 22,435 recorded in the 2006.

A regional breakdown showed Traveller numbers increased in every county with the exception of Waterford where the numbers fell by 7 per cent.

The biggest percentage increases were recorded in Cavan where Traveller numbers rose by 114 per cent and Donegal where the population increased by 99 per cent.


While the percentage of the Traveller population under 15 was calculated at 41.4% compared to 20.4% of the general population, health studies have shown the mortality rates to be higher among the Traveller population. In 1987, the Health Research Board study found Traveller health to be "significantly worse than that of the settled community".

It compared the life expectancy of settled men and women of 75 and 78 years respectively, to that of Traveller men and women, which shared a life expectancy of 65 years. A recent study by Monaghan and Brack concludes that no improvement has taken place in Travellers' health and life expectancy in 20 years.


source: MABS

Address: STSG, 1A St Annes, Cranmore Road, Sligo
Tel: (071) 9145780
Fax: (071) 9145782

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