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Patsy Dan and the incredible Tory Island

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As written for the Irish Bobcats blog:

Patsy Dan and the incredible Tory Island

By McKenzie Powell

On July 3, 2015, my Screenwriting & Documentary Storytelling in Ireland study abroad group ventured over to Tory Island, a quiet, secluded piece of land located just 9 miles away from the coast of Donegal.

As we hopped on the boat that served as our transportation to the tiny island, the fresh air and endless sea immediately consumed us, providing instant serenity. The boat ride alone was enough to let me know that this overnight trip would be more than beneficial and well deserved, as we all have been so attentive and dedicated to our projects and classwork over the past few weeks.


Three Screenwriting & Documentary Storytelling students below the cliffs of Tory

We were fairly aware that the King of Tory Island might greet us as we departed the boat, but we weren’t quite sure what he looked like, if this would actually happen and what all he would do. Sure enough, King Patsy Dan Rogers was standing right above the steps, with a big grin on his face and his right arm extended, ready to shake the next 30 or so hands. It was quite special that the wee king was the first to welcome us to the island – and in Ireland’s native tongue!

Upon arrival, the island didn’t seem as small as we had been told – surely you couldn’t cross the entire thing in only 30 short minutes! However, after greeting King Patsy Dan and getting settled in our hostel we learned just how fast you could speed walk from one end to the other, whether you would like to see a beautiful lighthouse surrounded by the ocean and fields of green, or the amazing, am-I-dreaming-or-is-this-real-life cliffs.


View from Tory Island

The cliffs were definitely the most stunning part of the island, as I have never seen anything of the sort. They were too beautiful to put into words, and probably far too gorgeous to capture with even the nicest, most expensive camera of all. Nonetheless we tried snapping photos of the scenery as well as each other, while also taking chunks of time to ourselves to enjoy the view and ponder the meaning of life (haha, maybe).

Before dinner, we were blessed with an outstanding musical performance concentrated on the concertina, an instrument that is very similar (visually) to the accordion. It was so interesting listening to the whimsical songs performed by the musician, Paul Rogers, along with his fascinating little blurbs about his travels to the United States.


For dinner, we made our way to the only hotel on the island, where we ordered some delicious sandwiches and chips. Around 11 p.m. or so, a singer/guitarist performed a few fun loving songs for the relatively intimate, small crowd. At one point, we all clapped along in joy, thoroughly enjoying his selection in music and his nice singing voice.

Tory Island is an extremely small island, where everybody knows everybody and walking from one end to another is too easy to be true. The views were incredible, whether we were looking out our hostel window, gazing off into the distance from the cliffs, walking in the middle of the island, sitting near the shore, or resting by the lighthouse. I think it’s safe to say that this overnight getaway was just what a lot of us needed – a break from our projects and the outside world and, instead, a day full of unique music and a few moments to enjoy life’s simple, natural beauty.

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