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Meeting an Irish half-Traveller in a Dublin pub

Autumn 2001, —

I use the European-English spelling of "Travellers," because that's how the Irish — and the Travellers themselves — spell the English-language name of the Pavee.

I met a guy named Tony
when I was at the Isaac Butt, a pub across from the Dublin bus station. Tony said he was half-Traveller. Travellers are an ancient nomadic ethnic group native to Ireland.

Tony was the first one who told me about the word "Knackers," a derogatory term in the ear of the Irish Traveller (and the common term amongst "settled" Irish.)

He talked about the month of March in Athlone, when there is a bareknuckle fistfighting tournament. This tournament involves and incorporates any impromptu informal fighting. If you fight and beat another man in a simple dispute out on the town, that's as good as beating him in competition.

A Traveller woman, said Tony, doesn't go out during that time in Athlone. She would cause a fight.

I don't know if any of this is true — still is, or ever was. It is only what Tony said to me, in the autumn of 2001 in Dublin.