Sole resident of Inishfree finds no man is an island
A man who has lived on his own for 20 years on the Co Donegal island of Inishfree says he plans to move back to England after feeling particularly lonely this Christmas because his broadband was not working.
For most of the time Barry Edgar Pilcher, who will be 70 this year, has lived alone on the island and this year he didn’t even get to see his wife and daughter, Alice Rainbow, on New Year’s Day because his Skype service was not available.
His wife and daughter, who moved from Essex when he transferred to Inishfree, remained on the island for only a couple of years before moving back to the UK. He maintains contact by mobile phone and on the internet.
But his broadband service was not working recently and he couldn’t even share a smile with them over the new year.
“Skype is no substitute for giving her a hug,” he said yesterday, referring to his wife.
Mr Pilcher, who lives in a ramshackle home, 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 by the glorious beauty of the island and its isolation, which permitted him to work on his music and poetry without disturbance.
A handful of people have holiday homes on the island – six can even go to the polling booth at election time in Mr Pilcher’s house to vote – but their main homes are on the mainland.
Mr Pilcher gets a ferry once a week to the mainland village of Burtonport to buy supplies.
He told John Murray on RTÉ radio yesterday: “If I want to do a curry I can’t really phone up for a take-away curry.”
One reason he plans to return to the UK this year, apart from his loneliness, is because his wife has not been well lately.
In addition, he wants to meet an older brother whom he has not seen for a long time.
“You have to be tough to live out here. I’ll be glad when I can move on in life,” he said.
He said he would miss Inishfree: “I’ll be going as soon as I can organise 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.”