Friday, October 20, 2023

Irish Travelers by Caroline Clemmons

By Caroline Clemmons

What are you doing today? Why not go with me and spend a few minutes in Ireland? 

Irish Travelers are descended from medieval minstrels and poets who traveled Ireland telling myths and stories. At that time, they were respected and learned. Travelers have their own language, Sheldroo, which is linked to medieval language. At the time of English occupation, many Irish families were turned out of their homes. At that time, it was illegal for Irish to learn to read and write—only the English could attend schools and universities. Many of the homeless Irish families drifted in with the traveling minstrels and eventually became the Irish Travelers. They camped in fields. Later they acquired tents, then the colorful wagons that resemble gypsy wagons.

They are not gypsies, though. Gypsies are Roms and originated in India and migrated across the world. (They were one of the groups the Nazis tried to eradicate in World War II.) Travelers are of Irish origin, although they have now spread throughout the Western world.

 *Note: I haven’t visited Ireland in many years, so conditions may have changed. Plus, this information on Irish Travelers is a generalization—which is like saying all Americans are rude when visiting other countries. Still, this is the only way I know to explain the ethnic group. Please realize I am not bashing Irish people! I’m of Scot-Irish descent and love anything to do with Ireland. I’m merely identifying a stereotype. As with many other subjects, we hear about the bad ones. For a couple hundred years, Irish Travelers have been thought of as con men and their wives as beggars. They make an interesting backdrop for a historical romance—but I find most subjects do.

 In Ireland in this century, legislation set aside special camping places for the Travelers. There was much controversy then over whether the children should be forced to attend school or not. In the U.S., they are supposed to attend school. There’s a large base of Irish Travelers in White Settlement, Texas (a suburb of Fort Worth) and another in Los Angeles, California. In White Settlement, many live in RVs or mobile homes at a park owned by one of the Travelers. Most of the families are Roman Catholic, and the wives attend mass. They were/are also called Tinkers because there was usually one among them who repaired pots and pans and metal wares.

 Now let's leave Ireland and travel to the Texas Hill Country. I love Texas, even when we have those awful triple-digit temperatures, (My ardor is much higher when we have moderate days.) I love Texas. I love Texas history, especially the 1870-1890 time period. 

THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE is set in 1885 Central Texas near Bandera and Medina, and also the Lost Maples State Natural Area. That location appeals to me and is the setting of many working ranches and some fairly famous dude ranches. Years ago, my family and I stayed at the Mayan Dude Ranch, and the girls loved it. It wasn’t Hero’s thing, but he was a very good sport.

Visiting Ireland, I heard more about Irish Travelers. I'd already learned a little from Louis L'Amour's books. The more I studied about them, the more fascinated I became. Then I learned that a huge group of Traveler families wintered in the Fort Worth suburb, and some even lived there year-round.

 I decided to bring a group of Travelers from Ireland to Texas in 1885. Irishman Sean O’Neill’s family has been traveling with the group, though not truly absorbed by them. I love this book and love the cover. The couple is among my favorites about whom I’ve written. This book does include intimacy, but the couple is married at the time, and the sex is not graphic. If you haven’t yet read this book, Give it a try. I hope you’ll enjoy reading THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE as much as I enjoyed researching and writing Cenora and Dallas’s story. 

Here's the buy link: 

Here’s the blurb:

 Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father somehow arranged the trap for Dallas, but she agrees to wed a handsome stranger. She’d do anything to protect her family, and she wants to save herself from the bully Tom Williams. A fine handsome settled man like Dallas will rid himself of her soon enough, but at least she and her family will be safely away from Tom Williams.   

 Texas rancher Dallas McClintock has no plans to wed for several years. Right now, he’s trying to establish himself as a successful horse breeder. Severely wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, Dallas is taken to her family’s gypsy-like Irish Traveler’s wagon to be tended. He’s trapped into marrying Cenora, but he is not a man who goes back on his word. His wife chatters constantly and has a silly superstition for everything. Passion-filled nights with her make up for all her faults—but what is he supposed to do with her wild Irish family?

 In THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, how did the heroine and her family end up trekking across the U.S.? You’ll have to read the book to learn the answer. <G>

 Stay safe and keep reading. 

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