The last remaining full-time resident of Inishfree has packed his bags and returned to England.
Barry Pilcher (pictured) left the island on Tuesday to make the journey to Essex. The sole year-round resident of Inishfree, the 70-year-old spent his last few days there with his wife Eve before the pair boarded a ferry to Burtonport.
They then travelled on by bus to Letterkenny and Dublin, where they were due to catch a ferry to Holyhead followed by a train to London yesterday.
Barry moved to Inishfree from England in 1993 along with Eve and daughter Alice Rainbow. He moved from London because he was struck with the beauty of the Island and its isolation which permitted him to work on his music and poetry without being disturbed.
The women, both nurses, left the remote Island after a couple of years but Barry stayed on. Over the years, Eve visited Barry ocassionally. She was always determined to get her husband to return home with her, which she persuaded him to do so just five days ago.
In an interview with the Irish Times, he said “There was no pressure. I could have stayed but I have missed my family and I want to be with them. But I am coming back to Inishfree in the summer. There’s a bit of tidying up to do and anyway I know I’ll miss it. It’s a beautiful place, but it is no place for a family.”
Mr Pilcher, who lived in a windswept cottage, often talked about the difficulties he faced living on the Island. ‘’You have to be tough to live out there’’ he said. “I’ll be glad when I can move on in life.’’
He kept contact with his wife and daughter by mobile phone and internet but often talked about the difficulties he faced with his broadband services, such as over the New Year period when he was unable to Skype his wife.
Barry got a ferry every Friday to the village of Burtonport to buy supplies for the following week and to collect his pension.
A lover of music and poetry, Barry brought his beloved saxophone and other instruments with him back to England.
Although Barry was the only permanent resident on the picturesque Island, a handful of people have holiday homes there. Six people even go to vote at the polling station on the Island is situated in Barry’s house.