The Northwestern Islands


Inishfree (Co. Donegal)

Loneliest man in Ireland leaves deserted island after 20 years
Finally concedes that Skype is no substitute for people contact
By PADDY CLANCY, Irish Voice Reporter
Thursday, January 10, 2013, 6:58 AM
Barry Edgar Pilcher to leave Inishfree

Ireland’s loneliest man has said he is moving back to England this year after 20 years on the Co. Donegal island of Inishfree.

For most of his time on the island, Barry Edgar Pilcher, who will be 70 this year, has lived alone there and 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.

His wife and daughter, who moved from Essex when he transferred to Inishfree, only stuck the island for a couple of years before moving back to the U.K., and he maintains contact by mobile phone and the Internet.

But his broadband service was not working recently and he couldn’t even share a smile with them over the New Year.

Pilcher admitted his loneliness when he said, “Skype is no substitute for giving her a hug.”

Pilcher, who lives in a ramshackle cottage, writes poetry, plays his saxophone and maintains Internet contact with other musicians in Europe – when his broadband works.

He moved from London in 1993 because he was struck with the glorious 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 in Pilcher’s house to vote at election time – but their main homes are on the mainland.

Pilcher gets a ferry once a week to the mainland village of Burtonport to buy supplies.

He survives on brown rice and other essentials and said, “I can’t really phone up for a take-away curry.”

One reason, apart from his loneliness, that he is planning to return to the U.K. this year is because his wife hasn’t been well lately and he wants to meet an older brother who he hasn’t seen for a long time.

Then he admitted how much he will miss Inishfree. “I’ll be going as soon as I can organize it. But it is very magical out here. There is no street lighting so you can see the stars at night and things like that,” he said.


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