Orla Monaghan travels to Ireland’s most remote inhabited island in Loïc Jourdain’s The Tribe of Gods.

The Tribe of Gods is a beautiful documentary from French filmmaker Loïc Jourdain that follows the daily life of the last king of Tory Island Patsy Dan Mag Ruaidhri. Only we soon realise that Patsy’s journey is also that of the 110 inhabitants and the island itself.

Tory, a small Irish-speaking island off the coast of Donegal, is a beautiful and unique place to live, but life there is not always easy. They are continually at the mercy of the weather and Dublin-led government initiatives that seldom take their unique way of life into consideration. 

We join the community at a worrying time – the fishing industry has become too restrictive to make a living, their king is ill, and the boat that has been tendered as their new source of connection to the mainland is not fit for purpose; an issue that will mean several of the families on the island will be forced to evacuate. As Patsy poignantly puts it – ‘how easy it is to see a community wiped away by the swipe of a pen’. In order to preserve their home, they must do what they always have – work together. 

The documentary is a skillful blend of storytelling, music, song, heartache, celebration, strength, hardship and resilience. Essentially, all aspects that sit at the heart of Irish culture. I cannot recommend highly enough.

DIR/WRI: Loïc Jourdain Mirjam Strugalla, Loïc Jourdain • DOP: Loïc Jourdain • PRO:Deaglan Ó Mocháin, Laurence Ansquer, Loïc Jourdain • CAST: Laurene Boyle, Marjorie Uí Chearbhaill, Pádraig Gráinne Duggan


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