Ian Fleming (r) with his jigsaw artwork, Lord Bannside and President McAleese
Ian Fleming (no James Bond conection) is the name of the local artist who designed the artwork presented to President Mary McAleese and Lord Bannside last November at the Columbanus lunch organised by the Ullans Academy - see Columbanus lunch report: Part 1, Tuesday, November 30. 2010, and Part 2, Wednesday, December 1. 2010. Having met at the function, Ian invited me to a Preview of an art exhibition that he had organised. This took place last week in the Engine Room Gallery, Newtownards Road, Belfast, and included paintings by several different artists of works relating to Tory Island.
Tory Island (official name: Toraigh, but also known in Irish as Oileán Thoraigh) lies 9 miles north-west of the coast of County Donegal. I've never visited itself myself, but have seen its lurking presence off Donegal's north coast, especially when I cycled round the county as a boy in company with Hans Hendrischke (mentioned in Youth Hostels: Part 1, Tuesday, May 15. 2007). The 2002 census recorded Tory's populaion as 133.
In his invitation, Ian Fleming informed us that the function would be graced by the King of Tory, Patsy Dan Rodgers. This is a post elected by the islanders themselves. At the exhibition Patsy told me that his predecessor had served for 45 years. Of course, medieval Ireland had dozens of petty kings or rí.
Patsy is an artist himself and had several of his own works on display, using both his English name and in his Irish name Patsaí Dan Ruaidhrí (newcomers might be deceived that these were different people). The King seems to have passed on his artistic gift since two of his daughter, Majella and Christina, had works on display as well; and there was on show an impressive portrait of the King by Majella's husband, Daniel Cullen. Ian Fleming's works were represented as well, along with those of several other artists. You can see photos of some of the works that impressed me in Tory Island exhibition on Mister Keep Fit (click on an image to expand).
After light refreshment and some speeches, Patsy took up his accordion and began to play. We even had a barn-dance, "The Waves of Tory", in which I took part and much enjoyed. Thanks to Ian for inviting me.