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Amhráin gaelach tradisiúnta #3
This is a children’s song originating from the Donegal Gaeltacht in the north-west of the county. The song tells the story of a small boat owned by a man called Feilimí (Phelim) on a journey to Gola Island, and subsequently to Tory Island, off the coast of Donegal.
The song tells the story of Feilimí Cam Ó Baoill, a chieftain of the Rosses, West Donegal in the 17th century. He had to take to the Islands off Donegal to escape his archenemy Maolmhuire an Bhata Bhuí Mac Suibhne. At first, Feilimí sailed to Gola island, which is less than two kilometres off the coast of Gaoth Dobhair.
Tory Island was more inaccessible and isolated than Gola island, which is reason enough for Feilimí’s decision to sail beyond Gola onwards to Tory Island. It would provide for a safer refuge. However, Feilimí’s little boat was not sturdy enough and he never survived the journey.
Since the 1960s, Gola island (pictured above) has been uninhabited by humans. And to this day, the proud people of Tory Island (below) boast their very own native King!
“This remote island, two and a half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide, withstands the full fury of the North Atlantic winter to blossom once again in the soft summer sunlight."
Typical of many children’s stories, Baidín Fheilimí is a dark tale; effectively a boat chase, leading to the desperate decision to try to find a better hiding place… and, ultimately, the death of our chieftain hero below the wild Atlantic waves.