The Story of an Atlantic Community / Scéal Pobail Atlantaigh
21.0 x 26.6 cm. vi, 138 pp. 2006 fully illustrated with colour photographs and maps Bilingual English/Irish text
In a world where everything seems tame and familiar, islands promise wildness and difference. Tory Island, the most remote and exposed of all the inhabited Irish islands, is no exception to this rule. The great seas ranging in from the Atlantic and the strong currents sweeping along its southern coast have isolated the island thus helping in the retention of a way of life that has long since disappeared on the mainland and the survival of Irish as the spoken language.
The Waves of Tory tells the story of this small community in terms of their attachment to the land, their reverence for and awe of the sea, and their well-preserved egalitarian society, where dancers, musicians, storytellers and painters take pride of place. The text, in English and Irish, is interlaced with legends and tales of the supernatural, and illustrated with accounts of island customs and beliefs.
The Tory islanders are a people whose roots go back to prehistoric times; typical is the King of Tory, Patsy Dan Rodgers, whose office is pre-Christian in origin. Links with the past are everywhere in evidence from the Iron Age fort, home to Balor of the Evil Eye, to the impressive remains of the early Celtic Church of St Colmcille. Superimposed on this pattern are the clustered settlements and vast open fields of the ancient Rundale farming system and the piers, boat rests, and kelp-pits, the products of man’s more recent activities on the sea and the shore. These survivals from the past strike deep resonances with those in search of the “real” Ireland.
The Waves of Tory comes at a time when Ireland’s Atlantic heritage is under threat as it has never been before. Important changes have taken place on Tory in recent times, which have threatened the very existence of the island community; the demise of farming and the cessation of fishing have encouraged persistent rumours of evacuation. It would be a tragedy if this little island, which has given so much to Irish music, song, dance, art and storytelling, were to be evacuated like many other Atlantic communities during the twentieth century. This book will help to alert a wider audience to the vibrant culture that still pertains in this very special place on the uttermost edge of Europe and to the need to conserve it for the benefit of generations yet to come,
The King of Tory is tireless in his efforts to save his island home from evacuation. In his own words “May God in Heaven help us if we don’t win. No matter where you are, the place where you are born and reared is the place you love best. We have every right to stay here. We want to remain here and hand it on to the future generations”.
Jim Hunter has a deep interest in Irish culture and traditions of the countryside. He has travelled throughout Ireland collecting myths and folklore, which he uses to enliven his writings. He has broadcast regularly on radio and television and has written a series of books on local history. He first visited Tory in 1957 and over the years has done much to promote the island through the organisation of guided tours and primitive art seminars. He has also mounted exhibitions of Tory art and arranged cultural events to highlight island music and dance throughout Northern Ireland.
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