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Inishfree Upper
Native name:
Inis Fraoigh
Inishfree Upper is located in island of Ireland
Inishfree Upper
Inishfree Upper
Etymologytransl. Heather Island
LocationAtlantic Ocean
Coordinates54°57′18″N 8°26′41″W / 54.95500°N 8.44472°W / 54.95500; -8.44472Coordinates: 54°57′18″N 8°26′41″W / 54.95500°N 8.44472°W / 54.95500; -8.44472
Area0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)
Population0 (2013)

Inishfree (Irish: Inis Fraoigh, transl. Heather Island) refers to two small islands off the coast of County Donegal in the north of Ireland. Inishfree Upper is the larger of the two at around 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2).[1] It is often known simply as "Inishfree".

Inishfree Upper[edit]

In the 4th or 5th century, Inishfree Upper was reputedly controlled by Niall of the Nine Hostages, future High King of Ireland.[2]

In the early 20th century there were 36 families living on the island. Séamus Ó Grianna and Peadar O'Donnell each taught at the school there.[2] Peadar O'Donnell was at one point the schoolmaster.[3]

In 1980, the Atlantis commune moved to cottages on Inishfree from Burtonport, where they had set up in 1974.[4] The commune were known as The Screamers for their practice of primal therapy, and subsequently moved near to Icononzo in Colombia in 1989.[5][6]

The last permanent resident of Inishfree Upper was Barry Pilcher who had moved there in 1993 from Essex and to where he returned in 2013.[7] Because of the possibility that bad weather would stop the votes being counted, Pilcher and residents of nearby islands were the first in Ireland to vote on the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009.[2] There are still holiday homes in use on the island.[7] In 2016, two people voted in the Irish general election on Inishfree, both of whom had moved to live primarily in Burtonport.[8]

Inishfree Lower[edit]

Inishfree Lower is the smaller of the two islands. It was home to one family until the 1960s or 1970s.[9][10]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Inishfree Upper Townland, Co. Donegal". Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Bray, Allison (3 May 2012). "Artist Barry Pilcher is the only resident of remote Inishfree island". Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  3. ^ Clark, Wallace (2003). Donegal Islands. Dundurn. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-900935-31-9.
  4. ^ Dunne, Aidan (7 November 2017). "The screaming cult makes its way to Galway". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  5. ^ McCann, Nuala (23 July 2018). "Donegal's 'screamers': The story of 1970's Atlantis Commune". BBC News. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  6. ^ Martinez, Margarita (11 February 2001). "Killings End Commune's Innocence". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b Clancy, Paddy (19 March 2013). "Sole resident of Inishfree Island leaves for good". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Whitewashed island cottage transformed into polling station for the day". The Belfast Telegraph. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  9. ^ Clark 2003, p. 76.
  10. ^ David Walsh (2004). Oileain: A Guide to the Irish Islands. Pesda Press. pp. 192–. ISBN 978-0-9531956-9-5.