Tory Islanders - History and Cultural Relations



The earliest remains on Tory are those of an Iron Age hill fort. The next earliest are a round tower and associated buildings thought to be part of the monastery founded there by Saint Columba (Columkille) in about A.D. 550. Later it was seized by the Norsemen around A.D. 700 to 800. Various annals show it was a key strategic location in the control of the northern coast and was often in contention. In 733 Dougall the Second, king of Scotland, seized it; because it had harbored refugees from the Armada, the English "devastated" it in 1595. In 1609 it was still in Irish hands, but by 1653 it had passed to an English Protestant. In 1832 a lighthouse and Lloyd's signal station were built. In 1903 the Congested Districts Board for Ireland purchased the island from Benjamin Joule, who had owned it since 1861. A gunboat sent to collect the local taxes in 1884 sank with all hands. In 1922 Tory became part of the Republic of Ireland along with County Donegal. The islanders are fiercely independent and wish to run their own affairs, but they are increasingly dependent on government subsidies. They have a favored status as native Gaelic speakers, and government policy subsidizes such enclaves.


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