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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 6 September
Repeated Thursday 11 September
Listen to this programme in full
Dolphin off Tory Island
Helen Mark heads off the coast of Ireland to an island big on art and small in size
Tory Island is a unique place, a small island that seems more like a throw back to another era. Sitting seven miles off the northwest coast of Ireland in County Donegal, the island is three miles long and a scant ¾ of a mile wide. The population hovers between 150-170 people. It’s also one of the places where Irish is the first language and it’s still heard on the streets and in the pub on the island.

Helen is first greeted by Dougie, the Island’s resident dolphin. He showed up to the island more than a year ago and has become a firm fixture for locals and tourists. There she speaks with Ute Margreff, who’s been studying solitary dolphin behaviour off the Irish Coast for 8 years. She tells Helen how unique Dougie’s behaviour is. Next Helen is met by the Island’s King, Pasty Dan Rodgers . Pasty’s been reigning over the island for the last 16 years and while not having a crown or a castle, he sees his job as to welcome every arrival on the ferry as if to his own home.
Painting has also been a large part of the revival of Tory, with the Tory School of Artists setting up shop in the 1950s. Anton Meenan takes Helen around the gallery and talks about how for the island art was used as a weapon of change. But not all island living is idyllic. A conversation with hotel owner Pat Doherty reveals that local people are still struggling to get some of the basics – including drinking water from their taps.
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