Travellers, land management, and the political ecology of marginalisation in Celtic-Tiger Ireland


  • Patricia Wood York University



Irish Travellers were once an itinerant population on the island of Ireland, but are now predominantly sedentary and urbanised. Their longstanding horsekeeping practices have become subject to increased management and regulation in the Republic. Nominally introduced in the interest of safeguarding the well-being of horses, the policing of horsekeeping has also served as an instrument of surveillance and marginalisation, and has had a culturally and economically severe impact on the Traveller community. This paper argues that the policing of Travellers who keep horses has its roots in a larger transformation of rural landscapes, led by the Irish state as part of an economic plan of modernised dairy and beef production for an international market. The spatial transformation of rural areas was intensified further during the Celtic Tiger (1994-2008), when the central government’s transfer of responsibilities to under resourced local authorities combined with property speculation and new environmental regulation from the European Union to produce new land management discourse and practices at the local level. Land was understood to have new and lucrative potential for development and, although they often managed it badly, local authorities increased their oversight and policing of previously flexible or ‘disorderly’ land. These evolving frameworks and practices of land management and oversight served to marginalise communities whose ties to land were insecure, such as Travellers who kept horses.

Author Biography

Patricia Wood, York University

Department of Geography




How to Cite

Wood, P. (2017). Travellers, land management, and the political ecology of marginalisation in Celtic-Tiger Ireland. Irish Geography, 50(1), 59–80.