Tory Island. Island in Ireland, Europe

Tory Island

Island in Ireland, Europe

Tory Island Photo © bilfleming

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Tory Island

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Tory Island, officially recognized as Toraigh, its Irish name, is a small island on the north-west coast of Ireland. When visiting the island, expect to hear the traditional Gaeltacht and Ulster (Wikipedia Article) Irish language as it is the main language spoken. There are very few locations throughout Ireland that still speak Gaeltacht and Tory is proud to be one of them. English can be heard as well but it is used infrequently.
The entire isle of Tory consists of four towns spread over the expanse of 4.8 kilometers. It was stated in 2002 that the entire population equaled 133, however, in 2010 a recount found that the tiny island had dwindled down to 96. The four towns are appropriately named, East Town (An Baile Thoir), West Town (An Baile Thiar), Middletown (An Lar), and Newtown (Urbaile).

Tory Island
Tory Island. Photo by Kees Waterlander


Like most places in Ireland, Tory Island has its own bit of legend. Folklore weaves the story that the isle was the site of Conand's Tower. The belief is that the tower served as the stronghold of the Fomorians (Wikipedia Article) prior to being defeated by the Nemedians (Wikipedia Article) during a great battle. After the defeat, it is believed that the future Fomorian King, Balor of the evil eye, continued to reside on Tory. The tale states that Balor eventually imprisoned Ethlinn at the highest point on the island known as Tor Mor.


In the 6th-century, a monastery was founded by Colcille. Up until this time, the monastery was raided and destroyed by English troops working to suppress the local chieftains, it was the center of all life on Tory. The bell tower, An Cloigtheach, somehow managed to survive the attack and is still located on the island and can be visited.
Just off the side of the island in the Atlantic Ocean, the last stance of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, became known as the Battle of Tory Island.

In more recent history, during the 1950s, the island became known as an artist community associated with the English artist Derek Hill.

Flora and Fauna

Tory Island is a breeding site for a globally threatened species of Corn Crakes. The birds numbers have dwindled to 28 males in 2007. Just a few years prior, in 2003, there had been 34.
Corn Crake

Getting There

Being such a small island, the only way to cross is from the mainland of Ireland by a ferry connection from County Donegal (Wikipedia
	Article). However, the ferry crosses daily from April to October and five times a week through the winter months. Be forewarned, the ferry does not take cars so once across you will need to walk around the island. While that may seem like a nuisance, the island is very small and anywhere you would like to visit can be easily traveled to by walking. If traveling during the winter months, the ferry may be held up due to rough seas. If you're lucky, you just might catch the small 4-seater helicopter instead. It flies from Falcarragh (Wikipedia Article) to Tory every Thursday.

Nearby Sights

While the Tory Island is quite small, it houses a significant number of historical sites. Be sure to see Dun Bhaloir (Balor's Fort) , An Cloigtheach (The Bell Tower), the Tau Cross, the Lighthouse, and the Wishing Stone to cast a wish before you leave.

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Author: ashley.minor. Last updated: Aug 11, 2014


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