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Council considers Freedom of Donegal for King of Tory

Patsy Dan Rodgers has been 'King of Tory' since 1993. Picture by Ann McManus
Seamus McKinney

COUNCILLORS will today discuss granting the freedom of Donegal to Ireland's only reigning monarch, the 'King of Tory' Patsy Dan Rodgers.

Ireland's most remote inhabited island, Tory lies nine miles off the Donegal coast and its population of around 150 people is often cut off during winter months.

While the position holds no formal powers, Tory Island is believed to have had a king for more than 600 years.

During the 1800s the position of 'Rí Thoraí' was hereditary with kings coming from the Heggerty/Heraghty family.

However, in more recent years, the kingship has been decided by popular vote among islanders.

Mr Rodgers (74) has held the position since 1993 and greets visitors to Tory as well as acting as ambassador for the island.

He first came to prominence when he led opposition to Irish government proposals that islanders should be re-settled on the mainland after Tory was cut off for two months during a particularly severe winter in 1974.

Mr Rodgers, whose family connections to Tory go back more than 3,000 years, was also a member of the “Tory School of Art” which was championed by the famous portrait and landscape artist Derek Hill.

He has led campaigns to have improvements made on Tory, including better pier facilities.

Earlier this year, Mr Rodgers was to the fore in calls to have a modern ferry service to the mainland put in place.

Donegal County Council members will today consider a proposal that he be granted the freedom of the county in recognition of his “lifelong commitment to the preservation and promotion of all aspects of island life and to honour the many years of service given to his beloved Tory Island”.

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