If you’re debating a visit to Tory Island in Donegal, you’ve landed in the right place.
Tory Island is Ireland’s most remote inhabited island located 12km off the coast of northern Donegal and it’s one of the most frequently overlooked places to visit in Donegal.
The island’s isolation has contributed to the preservation of its traditional way of life and is both a visually and culturally fascinating place to explore.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from how to get to Tory Island (spoiler: you take the Tory Island Ferry…) to things to do and where to stay!
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About Tory Island in Donegal
Tory Island is located 12km off the northwest coast of County Donegal. The rugged island is known as Ireland’s most remote inhabited landmass and is just two and a half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide.
Its isolation has led to a sense of timelessness and Tory Island is characterised by strong traditions and a sense of proud independence.
They still have an elected king or Ri Thorai who acts as the community spokesperson. The language is a unique dialect of Irish and their music, dance and stories have strong ties to ancient Gaelic culture.
You can find a range of historical sites and stunning natural beauty on the island around the two main villages known as East Town and West Town.
How to get to Tory Island with Tory Island Ferry Services
You need to take the Tory Island ferry to reach the island. This is a passanger ferry, so you’ll have to leave your car near the departure point (ask where when booking your ticket).
The Tory Island ferry is a fully equipped coastal cruiser and it travels from the harbour at Magheroarty to the island.
How long does the ferry take to Tory Island?
The ferry operates daily from April until October and five days per week for the rest of the year. The journey time is 45 minutes from Magheroarty Pier to the island.
For non-islanders, adult passenger return tickets are €25 and children from 5-18 years old are €10. There is a family price for two adults and two children return trip for €60. You can book by calling or emailing.
Things To Do On Tory Island
There are plenty of things to do on Tory Island, from long and short walks to historic sites, diving and plenty more.
Below, you’ll find severl worthwhile things to do on Tory Island, along with advice on where to eat, sleep and grab a post-adventure pint.
1. Stretch the legs on the Tory Island Loop Walk
One of the best ways to explore Tory Island is by following this 4km loop walk. It starts in West Town and takes you around the edges of the island with views across the spectacular cliffs. You can find a map board which outlines the loop at the pier as you disembark.
2. Learn about the King of Tory Island tradition
The history of the King of Tory fascinates many visitors to the island. The traditional title has a history that dates back to at least the 6th century, if not longer.
The role of the King was to be a representative of the island and he often greeted visitors coming off the ferry. The most recent king, Patsy Dan Rodger, died in October 2018 and at the time of his death, was the last remaining kingship in Ireland.
3. Give diving a go
Diving is one of the most exciting activities with the clear water around Tory Island making it a great place to witness the unique marine life. The wreck of the HMS Wasp is also just off the island with a dive of about 15 metres deep. If you’re interested in going for a dive head over to the dive centre at the Tory Island Harbour View Hotel.
4. See Tau Cross on your own or on a guided tour
One of the most fascinating historical sites on Tory Island in Donegal is the Tau Cross. The cross is a reminder of the monastic period that ended in 1595 when English troops forced the monks to flee.
The cross is carved from a single slab and measures 1.9m high and 1.1m in breadth. You can visit it on your own or with an experienced guide (hit play above!).
5. Visit An Cloigtheach Bell Tower
Not far from the Tau Cross on the main street in West Town, you can visit this 6th century round tower. It has a circumference of almost 16m and a round doorway. It’s the most impressive structure to have survived from the original monastery.
Tory Island Hotel and other accommodation options
The Tory Island accommodation options are fairly limited, however, what is there is pretty good, so you’ll be fine once you book in advance.
Note: As an Airbnb Associate and a Booking.com affiliate we make a small commission if you book via a link below. You won’t pay extra, but it helps us pay the bills (cheers if you do – we greatly appreciate it).
Tory Island Hotel
The Tory Island Hotel is by far the island’s premier accommodation, dining and entertainment facility.
They have 12 comfortable en-suite bedrooms available as well as the People’s Bar for a drink and meal. It’s located in the main West Town area, not far from the ferry pier.
Tory Island Airbnbs
There are a handful of Airbnbs on Tory Island. Well, there are three… I’m not sure if that qualifies as ‘a handful’.
Anyway! Each of the Airbnbs has a solid review score and they’re a handy option if you’re visiting the island with a group.
Tory Island restaurants and pubs
Tory Island has limited places to eat, but if you’re looking for a tasty feed and a drink to round-off the day, the below options will make your belly happy.
This cosy little bar is in West Town, just a short walk from the ferry pier. You can grab a pint of Guinness and a traditional pub meal, while chatting to the local barman. On a clear day you can set at a table outside for great views.
Tory Island Harbour View Hotel
This is the main accommodation and restaurant on the island in West Town. It’s just a short walk from the pier and is the perfect place to grab a meal from the friendly staff. The outdoor tables look straight out over the harbour.