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Definitions of 'Gypsy' and 'Traveller'


The term ‘travelling people’ is one often used in both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It can include:

  • ‘Gypsies’ who may be of English, Welsh or Scottish descent, and who have Romany ancestry. ‘Gypsies’ have a specific meaning for the purposes of planning and local authority law, which is considered below.
  • ‘Irish Travellers’ who are a nomadic Irish ethnic group with a separate identity, culture, language and history. There are many Irish Travellers resident in Britain for all or part of the year.
  • ‘Scottish Travellers’ who like Irish Travellers have musical traditions, language and other histories that date back at least to the twelfth century.
  • The Roma people who have moved to Britain from Central and Eastern Europe (of which Britain’s Romany Gypsies are members).
  • People with a long family history of travelling because they work with fairgrounds and circuses (also known as ‘Travelling Show people’).
  • So-called ‘New Travellers’. Some of whom may be second or third generation Travellers and/or may have Gypsy ancestry.
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