King of Tory Island Patsy Dan Rodgers dies aged 74

Stephen Maguire

The King of Donegal's Tory Island, Patsy Dan Rodgers, has died.

Mr Rodgers, who was 74, passed away at Dublin's Mater Hospital following a long-term illness.

Patsy Dan, or Patsaí Dan Mag Ruairdhrí, had been born in the inner city suurb of Westland in Dublin in 1944 but adopted and brought to Tory island aged just four.

He soon became part of the island community and so grew a love for a place which he promoted around the globe.

A traditional musician who loved speaking the Irish language, Mr Rodgers was a true ambassador for the remote island which has a population of around 150 people.

Visitors to the island were often met by the King who welcomed them in Irish as they made their way up the steps of the pier.

Mr Rodgers was also one of the many self-taught Tory painters whose primitive artwork is hailed around the world.

He became friends with renowned artist Dr Derek Hill who set up the Tory School of Primitive Art on the island.

Patsy Dan's work featured in galleries around the world and his last exhibition was held in Donegal this summer to celebrate his fiftieth year as an artist.

He became King of Toraigh in the 1990s when the family of the last King, Padraig Óg Rodgers, asked him to accept the honour of their father and become King.

He was a renowned musician, could often be seen playing the button accordion, and was awarded an honorary Master's degree by the University of Ulster in 1997.

A book published this year by Dr Art Hughes titled Rí Thoraí - From City to Crag - Patsy Dan Rodgers, documented his life.

Funeral details have yet to be arranged.


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