Thursday, 12 June 2014

GOOD FENCES - Tory Island - Day 1 Part 1

For those who have been following my journey to Tory, we are resuming that today after a week’s break due to my time away! This post will contain barbed wire, wooden and stone fences interwoven in this story and I will be linking it to Tex’s meme, GOOD FENCES. 

The first two shots are on the journey in Donegal to the hotel where I spent the night before getting the ferry the next morning.

This is the ferry port of Magheroasty where I boarded the boat to Tory Island.

Tory Island, or simply Tory (officially known by its Irish name Toraigh), is an island 9 mile off the north-west coast of County Donegal in Ireland.  The main spoken language on the island is Irish, but English is also used.

Pied Wagtail. There were also quite a few White Wagtail

There was a lovely beach at the port with numerous Gulls on it.  I met a birder called Chris on the pier who was coming over to the island.  He often travels over to Tory and so when we got to the island, I accompanied him round it which was wonderful as I had never been to this island before.

Everything has to be brought over to the island  and as I saw on the boat I watched them loading the boat and I thought if I was stranded here, I would have some good food!  Then they had to take the old life raft off and bring the new one aboard

Off we go. It was a very pleasant crossing although at times I am told it can be very rough and if too rough, then no ferry goes so you have to be prepared if you are on the island to stay at little longer.  We saw Great Northern Diver, most of the Gull species, Gannet, Cormorant, Fulmar, and Kittiwakes on the way over and  also when we were on the island.  

The "king of Tory", Patsy Dan Rodgers (above), waits near the harbour to welcome all visitors to the island.  Reflecting a long-standing tradition, a "king" is chosen by consensus of the islanders. The current Rí Thoraí (Irish for "King of Tory") is painter Patsy Dan Rodgers (Patsaí Dan Mac Ruaidhrí). The king has no formal powers, though duties include being a spokesperson for the island community and welcoming people to the island.  

From the harbour I could see the hotel where I was going to spend 2 nights.  Sean, the owner had come down to take my luggage up to the hotel.  Both he and his wife  Patrica were very welcoming and the hotel was very comfortable and homely with excellent accommodation and I could certainly recommend it. CLICK HERE for more information of their site.

It didn’t take Chris and I long before we were exploring the island and one of the main attractions for us was to hear the first Corncrakes that come every year to the island to breed. 

The island is approximately 3 mile long and 0.6 mile wide.  The population is divided among four towns — East Town, West Town, Middletown and Newtown.  In August 2010, the King of Tory confirmed that there were 96 people living on the island.

Words alone, no matter how finely woven, could never give a true impression of the rugged beauty of Tory, the indomitable spirit of its people or their rich cultural inheritance. Tory must be visited if one is even to begin to understand why this remote crag, two and a half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide, holds such an attraction for its inhabitants that they, like their forebears, endure the full fury of the North Atlantic winter for pleasure and the privilege of living here in summer. 

This is Chris who is just setting up his telescope.  I had not brought mine over on the ferry so that was an added bonus for me to share the use of his. Over the 2 days of my stay I saw 51 different species of birds.

Tory's spectacular cliff scenery is complemented by a rich and varied history which is related in the islanders distinctive Gaelic.

Shags nested on the island.

In the next few shots I am trying to give you a feel for the island and to see some of their fences. The island has no trees due to its high winds however there are some larger bushes that we found birds in.  I was amazed at the number of Wheatear, Rock and Meadow Pipit on Tory.  We found Chiffchaff, Wren and Starlings in some of the bushes.  There are no house Sparrows however there are Tree Sparrows instead.  I was not complaining as they are ore difficult to find at home.

Now below is a bit of a challenge for you.  
There are birds in this shot, can you see them?

No, here’s a clue.  There are 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone and 5 Dunlin

I hope you can see them a bit better now.  They are certainly well camouflaged.

Four Herring Gulls perched on fence posts

I was also amazed at the number of new houses that had been built recently and these stand alongside the older and some disused ones.  
The Lobsters and Crabs would certainly be 'fenced' in to these pots!

Two Swallows perched on the barbed wire fence.


“The King and I”

An Cloigtheach (The Bell Tower) is the largest structure to have survived the destruction of the monastery (see history section above). The tower was built in the 6th or 7th century.

Sedge Warbler


The Lighthouse, standing at the west end of the island, was built between 1828 and 1832 to a design by George Halpin, a noted designer of Irish lighthouses. In April 1990 the lighthouse was automated. The lighthouse is one of three in Ireland in which a reference station for the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) is installed. The lighthouse is at coordinates 55°16.357′N 8°14.964′W

Since the 1950s, the island has been home to a small community of artists, and has its own art gallery. The English artist Derek Hill was associated with the Tory artist community and this was his studio.

Lapwing nest on Tory.  We also saw Oystercacher, Redshank, Curlew, Snipe, Sandwich Tern, House and Sand Martins, Swallow and  Chough over the cliffs.

The first Corncrakes arrived on the island on 27 April and when we were there it had increased to 4 which we heard and although we tried best, we did not see any.



I have a short video which can be accessed at

If there is a black space below, click it and the video will appear.

I hope you enjoyed day 1, part 1 of Tory Island and tomorrow we will continue our walk round the island to see some of the outstanding scenery and also show you some reflections to fit in with James’ meme, Weekend reflections.  So till then, have a good day/evening and thanks for visiting today.

Many thanks for comments you left on any of my posts.


  1. What a beautiful island! I think you captured the ruggedness of the island wonderfully - I just love those ancient wrinkled rocks along the sea shore. Great shots of the birds, but I really liked the posing gulls on the posts! I think I could spend a long time on an island like this to just meander around and enjoy the sound of the crashing waves and the sea birds. Looking forward to Day 2. Wendy x

    1. Hi Wendy I am delighted you enjoyed this post and Tory Island. there is a lot more to show you which I am working on at present so keep watching. You will not be disappointed. I appreciate you visiting and many thanks for your comment.

  2. Replies
    1. hi Debbie I am delighted you enjoyed the photos and thanks for your comment.

  3. great 'the king and i'. :)

    love those stone fences! and the 4 gulls on posts, too! thanks (in advance) for linking in, margaret!

  4. Wow---Tory Island looks like a fantastic place --and one I'd love to visit. Sounds as if you and Chris had a great time.. Love the photo of you two!!!!! NEAT.

  5. Fantastic.
    My personal favorites are the happy couple and the Herring Gulls perched on the poles.
    Peace :)

  6. Thanks so much for posting these beautiful photos! It looks like a place I would really enjoy visiting. Fantastic birds!

  7. I love that old bell tower! The Lapwing I have never heard of or seen, but he is a sight to stare at!! That very short rock fence doesn't really look like it would hold anything in, perhaps it is used for division. I love the four gulls perched on the fence post, they look like they are ready to perform.And the anchor embedded in the stone.

  8. wonderful post Margaret. What gorgeous scenery. My I would go crazy making pictures there. That's a great tradition...the island has a "king", how neat. Thanks so much for sharing your lovely photos.

  9. Margaret, wonderful series of scenic photos! Tory looks like a beautiful island to visit. Great bird sightings too! Have a happy day!

  10. My words do not serve justice to what I see in your photos . . .
    Outstanding . . . Stunning . . . Gorgeous . . .

  11. Wild country - and wonderful. Thank you.

  12. What a beautiful place Tory Island is and so close to nature ... unspoiled. I loved your video where I could hear the roar of the ocean in the background. I am curious about the Corncrackes ... is that a sound that they make? I am not sure if I saw them, I think not. Very interesting bird name. Would like to know more. Your fences were many and varied ... I am partial to stone fences and yours were old, worn and hiding many stories in them. Loved this post, Margaret ... look forward to your next one.

    Andrea @ From The Sol
    Andrea @ From The Sol

  13. What a beautiful place - I have ever heard of it before. Loved all your pics!

  14. Tory Island is absolutely beautiful.

  15. Oh my, what a beautiful charming island! I think I'd enjoy being "stuck" there for several days.

  16. What a fantastic trip. Thanks for sharing the many species of birds and that spectacular scenery. Beautiful photos, Margaret.

  17. That looks like a lovely time! You certainly have a lot of photo mementos!

  18. What brave and sturdy people these must be on this tiny island "against the sea". Amazing that there are several villages on this island . Stunning scenery

  19. Looks as if there is a great variety of sea birds here. Such amazing scenery. Also forgot to mention that I just love the yellow of your hotel.