Robin Fox wrote an in-depth book about the Tory islanders that is available from Amazon and 'all good bookshops' as they say (and presumbly from several crap ones as well).
The book gave rise to a debate in the academic sociology community about the meaning of community. Some said that Tory Island was a perfect example of a true community, whilst others argued people only looked after each other because of what they might gain in the future - property.
The following is the blurb about the book :
A group of Gaelic-speaking islanders located nine miles off the coast of Donegal in the extreme northwest of Ireland. Their roots go back to pre-Christian Ireland, and in their isolation they have maintained ways of life that have disappeared on the mainland and the rest of Europe. Perhaps in no other place is the archaic structure of the peasantry so well preserved - not unchanged, but ingeniously adapted to fit old customs to new uses. The book describes the history, legends, demography, genealogies, kinship, land tenure, boat crews, and household and marriage arrangements (where it was customary for many husbands and wives not to live in the same house.) In addition, Robin Fox conveys the spirit and humor of the islanders, which, he claims, represent a continuing hymn to the human capacity to survive and adapt.
Several of the 175 inhabitants enjoy painting and there is something of a 'Tory Island school' that has developed
For example this bird's eye view of Tory, is by Patsy Dan. The King of Tory (see another tip), Patsy Dan is an original member of the internationally renowned school of "primitive" Tory painters inspired and encouraged by English artist Derek Hill over 40 years ago.
This image of Tory, richly coloured and detailed, reflects the treeless (there are actually no trees at all) barren aspect of an island rich in tradition and mythology.
Tory artists have exhibited in major galleries in Ireland, Britain and throughout Europe and their paintings are to be found in many important collections. The work of the painters and other examples of island art such as model boats are exhibited in Gailearaf Dixon. Mainland artists also exhibit in Gailearaí Dixon.
Tory island is served by just one shop. You can tell this because the brochure for the island just lists it as "The Shop".
It's friendly enough - although it only sells life's essentials.
The feeling that it is "A local shop for local people" still comes through loud and clear - Royston Vasey eat your heart out !
What to buy: None
What to pay: A bit more than normal - it's got to come in by boat afterall.