Documentary on One

The Last King of Ireland

Patsy Dan Rodgers is King of Tory Island. Kieran Devaney spent two and a half years recording his close friend the King as he battles to preserve a way of living some would argue has no place in the 21st century. (2018)

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4.4/5 (69 ratings)

Documentary Maker : Kieran Devaney

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Documentary maker: Tim Desmond

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The Last King of Ireland

Patsy Dan Rodgers is the last King of Ireland. He’s ruled his remote North Atlantic fiefdom of Tory Island for more than 20 years and can trace an unbroken lineage back to Saint Colmcille who granted the title to an islander in the fifth century.

Over the centuries led by their Kings – and in at least one case a Queen – the Islanders have seen off Vikings, marauding Pirates and invaders from the mainland which lies nine miles across some of the most treacherous waters off the Irish Coast.

For the Documentary on One, writer Kieran Devaney spent two and a half years recording the colourful life of his close friend the King as he battles to preserve a way of living some in authority would argue has no place in the 21st century.

Kieran explores a vibrant community well versed in the Irish language, music and culture. He’s a guest at ceilidhs and sessions when the cream of Irish musicians and singers travel to Tory to perform with the King.

He meets the Island’s primative artists who owe their internationally recognised work to an Englishman who taught Prince Charles how to paint. And he learns why the Prince who will one day be King of England wants to make a pilgrimage to the Island to meet the man who is already a King.

Kieran gives a rich insight into Patsy Dan the fighter and joins him when he leads his subjects on a two day journey to the steps of Leinster House after the Islanders are offered a forty-year-old ferry to replace their lifeline to the mainland. Kieran’s story is Patsy Dan’s own very personal story, the story of a young boy fostered to the Island as an infant, his search for his mother, his faith, his music and his deep love for his Island, its Gaelic culture and its people.

Now time may be running out for Patsy Dan. He confides in Kieran that he has been diagnosed with cancer and talks candidly about his fears for his future and the legacy he will leave behind as The Last King of Ireland.

Narrated By Gorretti Slavin.

Produced by Kieran Devaney and Tim Desmond. 

Archive material features Tommy Gorman and Damien Tiernan.

RTÉ Radio 1 Saturday July 28th @1pm 

RTÉ Radio 1 Sunday July 29th @7pm

Rebroadcast RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday 24th February @7PM

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One, the home of Irish radio documentaries.

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