News, Culture & Society

Photographer is granted rare access to Irish Travellers and spends decade documenting everyday life

Fascinating photographs captured over a decade document the secret lives of Irish Travellers.  

Award-winning photographer Joseph-Philippe Bevillard has shared the intimate portraits from an ongoing series capturing the ethnic group.

Among the striking images are children pointing toy guns at each other, made-up children at a wedding and a young boy practising with a punchbag on a campsite.  

A pair of Irish Traveller children play with toy guns at a halting site in one of the images in a series of intimate portraits of the community taken by photographer Joseph-Philippe Bevillard

A young girl with a full face of make-up and dressed to impress stands with her fellow bridesmaids at a wedding in Wexford this year

A young girl with a full face of make-up and dressed to impress stands with her fellow bridesmaids at a wedding in Wexford this year

In Galway, a dapper Traveller wearing a cravat and jacket shows off his large rings while smoking in front of the photographer

In Galway, a dapper Traveller wearing a cravat and jacket shows off his large rings while smoking in front of the photographer

Patrick and Savannah at the Puck Fair in Kerry

Paddy poses in his boxing gloves and wellies

Left: Patrick and Savannah pose at the Puck Fair in Kerry in front of a ride. Right: Young Paddy stands primed in his boxing gloves and wellies in Galway

Bevillard, from Boston, Massachusetts, studied photography in the US before moving to Ireland to start a property management business.

He then returned to his passion and started a project photographing Irish Travellers in 2009 after meeting them at a horse fair.

The photographer returned the following year to show them the images and he gained their trust and allowed him to continue taking images of their families and other clans.

The Reilly siblings are captured in an intimate portrait, with two of them riding a pony while another stands with her teddy in the doorway of her home

The Reilly siblings are captured in an intimate portrait, with two of them riding a pony while another stands with her teddy in the doorway of her home

A guard dog growls at the camera in Limerick in a photograph taken this year. The blood in its mouth came from its own bite

A guard dog growls at the camera in Limerick in a photograph taken this year. The blood in its mouth came from its own bite

Ten members of the Reilly family stand in front of a caravan, all of the men shirtless, in Tipperary last year

Ten members of the Reilly family stand in front of a caravan, all of the men shirtless, in Tipperary last year

Two young girls wear matching pink fur coats at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair in Galway in a photograph taken this year

Two young girls wear matching pink fur coats at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair in Galway in a photograph taken this year

A group of young boys play with pellet guns around a car at the Puck Fair in Kerry. Bevillard captured the image as part of a series on the ethnic group

A group of young boys play with pellet guns around a car at the Puck Fair in Kerry. Bevillard captured the image as part of a series on the ethnic group

William and Pricilla share an intimate kiss on the sofa in their caravan, surrounded by family photographs and glassware in Tipperary

William and Pricilla share an intimate kiss on the sofa in their caravan, surrounded by family photographs and glassware in Tipperary

He said: ‘I am intrigued by their nomadic lifestyle so I decided to visit their caravans, halting sites and roadside encampments.

‘Today, they are still facing racism, discrimination, hardship by society and high suicide rates. Travellers are very proud of their culture. 

‘I want to represent these people through my photographs. 

‘My goal is to continue to work with these families as well as other members that I encounter, and perhaps let the settled people have more understanding of their unique culture.’ 

There are around 30,000 Irish Travellers in Ireland and the group achieved recognised ethnic status from the government in 2017.  

Twins Timmy-Lee and Johnny look tough for the camera in Limerick, posing next to tyres at a halting site

Twins Timmy-Lee and Johnny look tough for the camera in Limerick, posing next to tyres at a halting site

Nellie and Willie are captured in their traditional bow top wagon, holding a small dog in the intimate portrait taken in Tipperary

Nellie and Willie are captured in their traditional bow top wagon, holding a small dog in the intimate portrait taken in Tipperary

Ned and his dressed-up daughter Judy on the day of her first Holy Communion, wearing a large white dress and a tiara

Ned and his dressed-up daughter Judy on the day of her first Holy Communion, wearing a large white dress and a tiara

Ellie is pictured floating in an inflatable paddling pool during a rare heat wave in Limerick in 2018

Ellie is pictured floating in an inflatable paddling pool during a rare heat wave in Limerick in 2018

A grieving wife places her hands on the coffin of her late husband in Limerick as the community watches on behind her

A grieving wife places her hands on the coffin of her late husband in Limerick as the community watches on behind her

Suited and booted: Jimmy and his sister Nikita look dapper as she wears a bright yellow starry dress, posing in the doorway of their caravan

Suited and booted: Jimmy and his sister Nikita look dapper as she wears a bright yellow starry dress, posing in the doorway of their caravan

Men have a smoke outside a church while waiting for the bride to arrive in Dublin. There are around 30,000 Irish Travellers in Ireland

Men have a smoke outside a church while waiting for the bride to arrive in Dublin. There are around 30,000 Irish Travellers in Ireland

Twins Bridget and Margaret are dressed in their finest with their hair in ringlets as they pose for photographer Bevillard

Twins Bridget and Margaret are dressed in their finest with their hair in ringlets as they pose for photographer Bevillard

Two young girls wearing matching red Versace t-shirts and skirts with a bow on the front stand in front of a red car

Two young girls wearing matching red Versace t-shirts and skirts with a bow on the front stand in front of a red car

Willie throws punches at a bag at his home on the roadside campsite in Tipperary while a dog watches on behind him

Willie throws punches at a bag at his home on the roadside campsite in Tipperary while a dog watches on behind him

The Reilly family are captured with their newborn as their other children sit next to the parents, with one child sleeping in a crib

The Reilly family are captured with their newborn as their other children sit next to the parents, with one child sleeping in a crib

William stands with his pet lurcher in Limerick in one image among a series of portraits of the Irish Travellers

William stands with his pet lurcher in Limerick in one image among a series of portraits of the Irish Travellers

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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