Saturday 18 November 2017

No man is an island -- Barry admits life's not so idyllic after all

Barry Edgar Pilcher waves as he returns to Inishfree Island following his weekly shop in Burtonport, Co. Donegal. Pic: Declan Doherty
Barry Edgar Pilcher waves as he returns to Inishfree Island following his weekly shop in Burtonport, Co. Donegal. Pic: Declan Doherty
Barry Edgar Pilcher entertains a local woman during his weekly shop in Burtonport, Co. Donegal, yesterday. Pic: Declan Doherty
Barry Edgar Pilcher stocks up on fuel for the fire in Burtonport, Co. Donegal yesterday. Pic: Declan Doherty

Edel O'Connell

HE arrived two decades ago, hoping to find a peaceful idyll. Earlier this week, the Irish Independent reported on the simple and quiet life of the artist who is the sole resident of a remote island off the coast of Donegal.



But Barry Pilcher now admits that in fact his island home has become something of a prison. But although he often feels trapped and isolated, he can't afford to move to the mainland.

The Londoner (69) moved to a stone cottage on the tiny island of Inishfree, off Burtonport, more than 20 years ago. He has lived there on his own for much of the time since.

He says he first moved to Inishfree with his wife and daughter in a bid to escape the hustle and bustle of London.

At that time, the island was an idyllic spot but as the years went by and the last of its residents left, Mr Pilcher ended up alone.

After a few short years on the island, his wife moved back to London to ensure that their daughter received a proper education. Now Mr Pilcher feels unable to leave.

Isolated

"Things have become a lot more difficult and I do feel very isolated, even trapped," he said. "But money is an issue and I would have to sell my house. Obviously, nobody is buying up property."

Mr Pilcher ventures into Burtonport each Friday in order to collect his pension and buy his provisions for the week. However, the trip costs him €37.50 as there are no official ferries or boats which leave the island on which he could use his free travel pass. Instead, he has to pay for this out of his pension of €230. "I have to rely on local fishermen," he said.

Once a year, his wife and daughter, who are both nurses living in Essex, visit him. The rest of the time they communicate via Skype.

Mr Pilcher, who plays the saxophone, is making an album with a group of Belgian musicians with whom he communicates via the internet.

"Some of my musician friends come and visit me but it is increasingly difficult for people to come because of the expense. People forget about you when you are the only one," he said.

Irish Independent

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