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'Tinkers'Synge and the Cultural History of the Irish Traveller$
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Mary Burke

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566464

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566464.001.0001

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Literary Antecedents of the Irish Revival Tinker

Literary Antecedents of the Irish Revival Tinker

Chapter:
(p.18) 1 Literary Antecedents of the Irish Revival Tinker
Source:
'Tinkers'
Author(s):

Mary Burke (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566464.003.0002

The opening chapter traces the various imagined ‘Easts’ from which the purported pre-Gaelic ancestors of tinkers and the Oriental antecedents of European Gypsies emerged. The Revival-era theory of tinkers’ pre-Celtic origins drew upon medieval traditions of the vanquished but extant Oriental inhabitants of antediluvian Ireland. Additionally, early modern English classifications of rogues proto-racialized the formerly occupational category of ‘tinker’. Consequently, these exotic associations accompanied the term tinker when the spread of English in Ireland in the 19th century allowed the word to displace unethnicized Irish-language designations for peripatetic peoples. European Enlightenment scholarship linking Gypsies to a distant Indian homeland simultaneously Orientalized a British Gypsy class previously considered native. In the work of Walter Scott, this exoticized Gypsy usurped the indigenous Hiberno-Scottish ‘tinkler’ category, facilitating the perceived retreat of that figure from the whole of the British Isles to its Irish edge by the Victorian period.

Keywords:   pre-Celtic populations, Gypsies, Walter Scott, Orientalism, tinklers, rogue literature, origins, Enlightenment, racialization, India

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