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Scottish Travellers Days
"There were three gypsies in a row
And o' but they were bonnie-o
They sang sae sweet and sae complete
They've stolen the heart of a lady-o
Laddie-o, laddie-o, follow the gypsy laddie-o"
The word "gypsy" historically refers to the Romani people (also known as the Roma), traditionally nomadic itinerants living mostly in Europe, as well as the diaspora populations in the Americas. Though the term has fallen into disuse, in Scotland, there are four distinct communities that identify themselves as Gypsies or "Travellers": Indigenous Highland Travellers, Romani Lowland Travellers, Scottish Border Romanichal Travellers (Border Gypsies) and Showman (Funfair Travellers). These diverse, unrelated communities speak a variety of different languages and dialects that pertain to distinct customs, histories, and traditions. They enjoyed a privileged place in Scottish society until the Reformation, when their wandering lifestyle and exotic culture brought severe persecution upon them. Indigenous Highland Travelers are known as the "Ceàrdannan" ("the Craftsmen") or sometimes "Summer Walkers" and would often earn money as tinsmiths (tinkers), hawkers, horse dealers or pearl-fisherman. James MacPherson (1675–1700) a Scottish outlaw, famed for his Lament or Rant, was said to be the illegitimate son of a Highland laird, MacPherson of Invereshie, and a beautiful gypsy girl that the laird met at a wedding!