Tory Island’s name conjures up images of majesty and beauty. In fact as the northernmost outpost of Donegal’s thriving Gaeltacht culture, Tory is home to its own King, Iron Age forts, and medieval round towers. Rare birdlife and wildflowers find shelter on the Island. The finest musicians, storytellers, and dancers host sessions that linger into the early hours.
The King of Toraigh
Artist, Musician and King of Tory, Patsy Dan Mac Ruaíri (Rodgers) is Tory Island’s best known resident. As a young man he was one of the leading campaigners against the Government’s plans to resettle the islanders on the Donegal mainland following storms in 1974 that had cut off Tory Island for nearly two months.
Patsy Dan Rodgers was one of the original members of the Tory School of Art, whose patron was the renowned artist the late Derek Hill. Led by James Dixon they mounted their first combined exhibition at the New Gallery, Belfast in 1968. Their acclaimed appearance was to be the forerunner of many similar showings around the world in the years that followed. In recent years with a seemingly never ending supply of his work mostly portraying island life, he has been the driving force behind art on Tory along with Anton Meenan and Ruari Rodgers.
Patsy Dan’s contributions to his island’s culture and wellbeing have been recognised by his fellow islanders who bestowed on him the title of King of Tory.
Take in the rugged attractions on the Tory Island Loop walk. This gentle walk will allow you to explore a range of interesting historical sites including the ’Round Tower’ once protected by monks from Viking raids, the ruins of Colmcille’s 6th Century monastery and the intriguing Tau Cross. Tory is also a mecca for birdwatchers and is home to several species of rare birds such as the Puffin and the endangered Corncrake.
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The best advice on Tory is come prepared. The weather can change very quickly on Tory so be prepared to stay longer. It is then that you will be able to experience the true Tory, and you will not be disappointed. Locals are very friendly and will always help you if they can.
The social club is a good place to go and usually has ceili’s, sean nos singing, and more craic going on in it. The cafe next to the club serves as a good place to feed to the hungry traveller. There is always something on the menu to please all. Good walks, beautiful scenery, wildlife galore, historical buildings.
Please note that time has no relevance on the island, other than the ferry times. Nightlife starts later than on the mainland. When all are asleep on the mainland, Tory becomes alive.
Catch the ferry from Magheroarty or Bunbeg. Ferry from Magheroarty is 45 mins - 1 hour depending on the sea; time from Bunbeg is 2 hours. 50 euro for a family ticket on the ferry for a return journey, but well worth the trip. One place to stay is the hostel Teach Bhillie. All bedrooms are ensuite. Continental breakfast is included in the price of your stay. TV in all rooms and tea and coffee facilities provided in bedrooms.
Stay for a few days to get into the swing of things. Relax and enjoy.
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