The pace of social change in Ireland had accelerated since the early 1990s. The various cultural and economic transformations also transformed the ways in which men engage in parenting and understand their roles as fathers. Social anthropologists have previously examined the ways in which the rights, duties, responsibilities and statuses of fathers are socially constructed and determined, varying considerably across cultures (Hewlet, 1991; Gutman, 2006). Furthermore, children and adults live their lives embedded in culture and culture is not a static entity, it is always changing and there are many ways in which fathers contribute to raising their children, even though the level of paternal involvement seems to differ widely within and between cultures.(Hewlet, 1991)
This paper looks at changing ideas of fatherhood amongst Traveller men in the context of cultural, social, economic and political processes and tries to provide an understanding of how Irish Traveller menís roles and identities are constructed, negotiated and enacted today, taking into account the changing nature of determinants such as family structure, roles of women, economy and education, as well as ongoing racism and discrimination affecting the Traveller community. Finally, this paper focuses on men, as the All Ireland Traveller Health Study (2010) highlights that although Traveller women and children need continued intervention to improve their overall status (including health) in the Irish society, Traveller men need similar attention and in some cases more than their women counterpart.
The research will be carried out with the assistance by a number of Traveller men and women, lay and professional, in the North West of Ireland.