Crowds flock to tiny island for funeral of Ireland’s last king

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Ireland’s last king has been laid to rest by scores of people whose lives he touched.

Tory Island, off the coast of Co Donegal, was flooded with visitors for the funeral of its king, Patsy Dan Rodgers.

The musician and artist became the tiny settlement’s best-known resident, regularly greeting visitors off the ferry and campaigning on behalf of the island.

Patsy Dan Rodgers death
Ireland’s last king, Patsy Dan Rodgers, is buried in the grounds of St Colmcille’s Church (Niall Carson/PA)

Many alighted the boat carrying bouquets of flowers and musical instruments.

The visitors included Colonel Liam Condon, Aide de Camp to the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.

There was a steady flow of people visiting Mr Rodgers’ distinctive house on the brow of a hill overlooking the main settlement on the island, where the gates read Teach An Ri, which translates as House of the King.

The funeral procession started from the house, led by one of his daughters carrying a cross ahead of her father’s coffin which was followed by more than 100 mourners for the short distance to St Colmcille’s Church.

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A cross in front of the coffin (Niall Carson/PA)

Following the service, Mr Rodgers was laid to rest in the church graveyard.

Among the visitors was Gerard Magee, from Antrim, who said it had felt strange to arrive at the island and not be greeted by Mr Rodgers.

“Over the years from 1997 to the mid 00s, I got to know Patsy Dan very well,” he told Press Association.

“I first met him as a visitor coming off the boat, it was always a nice thing for visitors to be greeted by the king, and as time went on, I got to know him and developed a rapport.

“He was a regular visitor to Culturlann [an Irish language centre] in Belfast, and a great man for traditional music and art.

“That was the first thing I noticed arriving at the island this time, the king was not there to meet us.

“Overall, he was a great ambassador for this island.”

Patsy Dan Rodgers death
Patsy Dan Rodgers died on Friday (Julien Behal/PA)

He described how Mr Rodgers had brought together a group of artists and brought out their skills, adding he was a loss to the world of art as well as to Tory Island.

“It is the end of an era for Tory islanders,” he said.

“He was a great promoter of the island, many came because they wanted to meet him.”

Mr Rodgers was born in Dublin, but was adopted and brought to the island as a young child.

He was asked to become King of Toraigh in the 1990s.

He died at the age of 74 last Friday at a hospital in Dublin following an illness.

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