Groups living more unorthodox lifestyles have been attracted to Burtonport. Now the Silver Sisterhood plans to set up a matriarchal society.

The fishing village of Burtonport in County Donegal has quite the profound ability to attract the unusual. In the 1970s Atlantis House became home to the sect known locally as the Screamers.

In September 1982, new tenants moved in calling themselves the Rhennish Community or the Silver Sisterhood. They believe God is a woman and wish to set up a matriarchal society.

The group members are all female and they refer to themselves as ‘maids’ rather than women. The role man has played in civilisation has no place in this community. The one man in the group when it was founded in Burtonport has since left.

The maids work the land and grow their own crops. Sister Breca says the community plans to open a craft shop and tea rooms which will utilise produce from their cow and chickens, and salads from their gardens. Ultimately they would like to offer visitors a bed and breakfast.

Religious devotion is central to this religious community.

Everything we do is because we love God and she's the centre of our lives so that when we're working we chant her name, we sing songs to her.

Sister Breca is aware of the difficulties in trying to attract men to join the community in the long term. Although men are treated with kindness in the community there is a different order of things which they find difficult as they are used privilege and power in a patriarchal society.

However this is a minor problem and for the moment

We're just spending this time building up our community with maids but that will change in the future.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 12 July 1983. The reporter is Tommie Gorman.