Friday 20 October 2017

He will arise and go now... Barry leaves Inishfree

Paddy Clancy

NO man is an island, as the only permanent resident of Inishfree has come to learn.

It has taken 20 years but loneliness finally caught up with Barry Edgar Pilcher, who is moving back to England this year.

He didn't even get to see his wife Eve and daughter Alice Rainbow on New Year's Day because his Skype service wasn't working. The 70-year-old said even that was no substitute for real contact: "Skype is no substitute for giving her a hug."

The Londoner moved to a stone cottage on the tiny windswept island of Inishfree, off Burtonport, Co Donegal, more than 20 years ago.

But as the years went by, many of its residents left for the mainland and he ended up alone. His wife moved back to London to ensure their daughter received a proper education. Now Mr Pilcher says it is time to leave: "You have to be tough to live out here. I'll be glad when I can move on in life."

Other reasons why, apart from loneliness, he is returning to the UK are because his wife hasn't been too well lately and he wants to meet an older brother who he hasn't seen for a long time.

But he added that there are many things he will miss about an isolated island life.

"It is very magical out here. There is no street lighting so you can see the stars at night and things like that."


He lives in a ramshackle home, writes poetry, plays his saxophone, and maintains internet contact with other musicians in Europe – when his broadband works. Mr Pilcher moved from London in 1993 because he was struck by the beauty of the island and its isolation, which permitted him to work on his music and poetry without being disturbed.

A handful of people have holiday homes on the island – six can even go to the polling booth at election time, which is held at Mr Pilcher's house – but their main homes are on the mainland.

Mr Pilcher gets a boat perhaps once a week to the mainland village of Burtonport to buy supplies.

He said he lived off brown rice and other simple fare, as "I can't really phone up for a takeaway curry."

Irish Independent

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