This documentary exposes the secretive world of the Irish Traveller. Filmed over twelve years, Knuckle details a history of violence between rival Traveller families. The film-maker, Ian Palmer is given total access to document the ‘bare-fist’ fights between the Quinn McDonaghs and Joyce clans, who, although cousins, have clashed for generations.
About Irish Travellers
Irish Travellers are a small, indigenous minority group that have been part of Irish society for centuries. The Equal Status Act defines the Traveller Community as people with a ‘shared history, culture and traditions including historically a nomadic way of life.’
According to a government report the Traveller population in Ireland is 40,129, which includes 3,905 living in Northern Ireland.
The All Ireland Traveller Health Study, which was published in 2010 shows that the key issues affecting Traveller health were environment and poor living conditions, lack of recognition of Traveller culture and identity, social exclusion and individual and institutional level racism.
The experience of low social status and exclusion, which can prevent Travellers from participating as equals in society, is often aggravated by hostility and misconceptions of people towards them, the report said. The report showed some stark inequalities with the general population. For example infant mortality was 3.6 times higher among Travellers, and Traveller men were 6.6 times more likely to commit suicide. Life expectancy for Traveller men is fifteen years lower and eleven years lower for women, when compared to the general population. The report found that 63% of Traveller children under 15 have left school, compared with the national average of 13%. ‘The fact that an identifiable disadvantaged group in our society is living with the mortality experience of previous generations 50 to 70 years ago cannot be ignored’, it said.
The report finds that the problem is endemic and complex and cannot be solved in the short term without considering the wider contextual issues within Irish society.