You're driving down the highway. As you pass the ramp to the interstate, you see a few gas stations scattered along the intersection. You continue down the highway through an undeveloped stretch of road. There are a few auto mechanic shops and a few industrial looking buildings. There are no retail chains or restaurants. It's a rough looking area that is in need of maintence.
As you pass a mechanic shop with cars spread across a grassy field, you look next door. An enormous house that must be worth half a million dollars appears. It looks brand new and has paper taped over the windows. Nobody appears to live here. Why? Why build this beautiful home on a highway and in this area of town? Across the street is a bigger house. Next door to it is a brick mansion. In all, there are roughly ten mansions along the street. Side streets would probably reveal more. They all look new and they all have paper on the windows. No cars are in the driveways. You spot a mobile home parked behind one of the houses.
Welcome to "Murphy Village" near North Augusta, South Carolina. Home of the Irish Travelers. Also known as, "Gypsy".
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The Irish Travellers have their own language. For the most part, they only marry within the group. They arrange marriages for their children. They don't use public schools. They are known to be scam artists in the area. They use a lot of the same names supposedly to confuse authorities. They will dress their little girls up in extravagant dresses and big hair. The largest community of them is located in Murphy's Village.
I have heard that the local buisnesses prefer not to do business with them. The phone company makes it difficult for them to get service, if at all. Also, I was told that the they live in the trailers for an additional year after the house is built to allow the bad spirits to leave.
You may have heard of them because they have been featured on programs such as 20/20 in the past. They really have a bad rap around town. If you ask anyone about the mansions that look out of place you immediatly get stories of shoplifting and scamming. They spend their summers traveling around the country looking for work. Some may offer to paint your house, only to use watered down paint. Others may offer to fix your roof, only to find that it still leaks when they are done. I'm sure there are some that are doing honest work and are good people but their reputation as a group is to not trust them.
In the winter they come back to South Carolina and live in their mansions in the middle of an industrial park. The next time I take a trip down to North Augusta, I'll take a few shots for you. You have to see it to understand the scale I'm talking about. Don't expect to see any people in the photos, they are well hidden. Just another part of being in Murphy's Village.