People of the Road: The Irish Travellers by Mathias Oppersdorff
Living along country lanes in tents and barrel-top wagons, travellers - or tinkers, as they often are called - have for centuries been a people apart from Irish society. It was in County Kerry at Puck Fair that photographer Mathias Oppersdorff first encountered them 28 years ago. His photographs - often stark and disturbing, yet always humane - offer a profound look at people at the crossroads of their existence. Although the travellers themselves now concede that education and settling down are important factors for a good future, the pull of tradition is strong; many travellers miss the open road and are ill at ease leaving a life that, for centuries, has been uniquely theirs. Oppersdorff's photographs take us through what has been the most turbulent time for the travellers. Although in years past they were defined by their nomadism and treated as outcasts, more recently many have chosen to live in housing projects and caravan parks, partially due to government-sponsored subsidies. As a result, traditional roadside tent-camps are a thing of the past.