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Irish Travellers - Socio-economic Aspects and Housing

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Level of education

The level of education among Travellers remained well below that of general population as clearly illustrated in Figure 2.1. Just 13.3 per cent of Traveller females were educated to upper secondary or above compared with 69.1 per cent of the general population.

Nearly 6 in 10 Traveller men (57.2%) were educated to at most Primary level in sharp contrast to the general population (13.6%).

167 Irish Travellers held a third level qualification in 2016, albeit up from 89 in 2011.

Irish Traveller MaleIrish Traveller FemaleGeneral Population MaleGeneral Population Female
Primary (incl. no formal education)57.246825642613854.430379746835413.622046979753111.6556094967971
Lower secondary22.623103127903422.028226393132516.238396900692613.1861726099757
Upper secondary6.302260761845778.0605266986759817.869696145672819.3909846937269
Advanced and higher certificate1.037472901827191.4695184053542812.27966280931819.45269256103057
Bachelor degree or higher0.9600495509445651.5277171540811925.466356467353530.7861397402004
Not stated10.003096934035310.19933071438966.382183010880486.09079505053086

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8023

Economic status

There were 10,653 Travellers in the labour force in 2016 and of these 8,541 were unemployed, giving an unemployment rate of 80.2 per cent. 2,112 persons were at work in 2016.

The labour force participation rate among Irish Travellers was 57 per cent compared with 61.4 per cent for the general population.

Among females 972 were at work while 2,938 were looking after the home, representing 30.4 per cent of Traveller women aged 15 or over.

Almost 1 in 8 (11.3%) Travellers indicated they were unable to work due to a disability, nearly three times the equivalent rate for the general population (4.3%).

Male Female
Persons at work12.637179913535110.0694084740495
Unemployed looking for first regular job5.054871965414033.01460685797162
Unemployed having lost or given up previous job50.083139341536433.9376359680928
Student or pupil10.24276687728639.8518595255361
Looking after home/family2.6715441747034730.4361338444007
Unable to work due to permanent sickness or disability13.61268152089579.21993162747332
Other economic status1.951003214721210.766601056666321

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8008

Table 2.1 Main Occupations of Irish Travellers, 2016
Caring personal service occupations23522213
Elementary administration and service occupations228103125
Elementary trades and related occupations1441395
Sales occupations1297851
Skilled construction and building trades1221220
Health and social care associate professionals1174572
Process, plant and machine operatives1139023
Administrative occupations863452
Skilled agricultural and related trades81801
Transport and mobile machine drivers and operatives74731
Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades63621
Leisure, travel and related personal service occupations622735
Other stated occupations28018595

It's a Fact

  • 80.2% - The unemployment rate among Irish Travellers in 2016


Irish Travellers continued to have higher rates of disability than the general population with almost 1 in 5 Travellers (19.2%) categorised as having a disability in 2016, up from 17.5 per cent in 2011.

A total of 5,963 Travellers had a disability of some sort in 2016, with 18,717 disabilities recorded.

The most common type of disability was difficulty with pain, breathing or any other chronic illness’ with 2,658 persons, followed by a ‘difficulty with basic physical activities’ (2,363).

Number of Disabilities
Blindness or a serious vision impairment528
Deafness or a serious hearing impairment656
A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities2363
An intellectual disability1228
Difficulty in Learning, remembering or concentrating2311
Psycholological or emotional condition1723
Other Disability, including chronic illness2658
Difficulty in dressing, bathing or getting around inside the home1466
Difficulty in going outside the home alone1871
Difficulty in working or attending school/college1906
Difficulty in participating in other activities2007

Interactive table: StatBank Link E8046

DisabilityNo Disability/Not stated
Irish Traveller19.243553748346180.7564462516539
General Population13.505863773962586.4941362260375

Accommodation type

The majority of Irish Travellers were living in private dwellings with a small number, 639, enumerated in communal establishments.

Figure 2.5 presents  Irish Travellers households by type of accommodation. Increases can be seen in all categories while the number of caravans or other mobile or temporary structures increased by 10.3 per cent between 2011 and 2016 after falling substantially between 2006 and 2011.

The census publication Profile 1 - Housing in Ireland looked at households where the number of persons exceeded the number of rooms as a measure of overcrowding. Figure 2.6 shows households by the number of persons per room (excluding not stated responses) for both Irish Travellers and the total population. Nearly two in five Irish Traveller households (39.1%) had more persons than rooms compared with less than six per cent of all households.

The number of Irish Travellers recorded as homeless in 2016 was 517, see Profile 5 - Homeless Persons in Ireland.

Detached House113318372123
Semi-Detached House132224482597
Terraced House132917141919
Caravan or other mobile temp structure13559201015
More than oneExactly oneLess than one
Irish Travellers21919492437
Total Population950131351491373450

Nature of occupancy

Irish Traveller households had a lower home ownership rate than the general population with 1 in 5 (20.0%) households owning their home compared to over two-thirds (67.6%) for the general population. The number of Irish Traveller households who owned their home outright increased by 22.8 per cent to 1,133 in 2016.

Of the 6,016 Irish Traveller households who were renting their home, the majority (65.5%) were renting from a local authority, an increase from 3,317 to 3,938 households. There were 1,835 Irish Traveller households renting from a private landlord in 2016, a decrease from 2,257 in 2011. 

Table 2.2 Irish traveller households by nature of occupancy, 2011-2016
Nature of Occupancy 20112016Change% change
Own with mortgage or loan586613274.6
Own outright9231,13321022.8
Rented from Private landlord2,2571,835-422-18.7
Rented from Local Authority3,3173,93862118.7
Rented from Voluntary housing body2062433718.0
Living rent free1762214525.6
Not stated300734434144.7
Total number of Households containing Irish Travellers7,7658,71795212.3


Internet Access

The level of internet access for Irish Traveller households is lower than that of the general population as can be seen in Figure 2.7 below.

The percentage of Irish Traveller households with no internet fell to 59.9 per cent in 2016 from 71.7 per cent in 2011.

Irish TravellerGeneral Population
With internet access34.061302681992378.5824650136341
Without internet access59.90421455938718.308128181418
Not stated6.034482758620693.10940680494787