Barry Pilcher, 69, had high hopes more than two decades ago for a peaceful existence on remote Inishfree, an island off the coast of Donegal. His dream of idyllism, however, has now left him feeling like a “prisoner” in his own home.
The Irish Independent reports on Pilcher, who is now the sole resident of Inishfree. Pilcher uprooted his wife and daughter from London 20 years ago in search of a idyllic life, far away from the “hustle and bustle” of busy London.
Now, though, Pilcher has watched the last of the few residents of Inishfree move elsewhere, leaving him as the sole resident. Even his wife chose to move back to England with their daughter after only a few years on the island in order for her to receive a proper education. Pilcher’s wife and daughter visit him annually and stay in touch the rest of the time via Skype.
"Things have become a lot more difficult and I do feel very isolated, even trapped," said Pilcher.
Like so many others in Ireland, Pilcher is feeling the pinch of a harsh economy which is nearly forcing him to stay on the island. “Money is an issue and I would have to sell my house. Obviously, nobody is buying up property."
Every Friday, Pilcher ventures inland to collect his pension and shop for provisions. However, with the remoteness of the island, he is forced to rely on local fishermen for trips to and from Inishfree. While he is eligible for free travel passes, there is no ferry service that he can avail of, forcing him to pay out of his own €230 pension each week for the trip.
Currently, Pilcher, a saxophone player, is working on a musical album with Belgian musicians. They keep in touch via internet as well.
"Some of my musician friends come and visit me but it is increasingly difficult for people to come because of the expense,” said Pilcher, “People forget about you when you are the only one.”
Ed Sheeran’s new album includes traditional Irish songs