Island Roy (Oilean Ruaidh) is a lowlying, gravel-based eminence of 100 acres. It has green fields, rocky sabres with abundant growth of seaweed - used for healthy bathing - and the landscape has breathtaking views of Rossapenna's sand-dunes, the surrounding Mulroy coastline and the Donegal hills.
It is situated some three and a half riles from the mainland villages of Downings and Carrigart. It was formerly known as Oileran na Bhreighe, meaning 'island of the prisoners,' which is its official name. It formerly had links with Doe Castle on Rosapenna, so this probably explains the origin of that name.
The present name, Oilean Ruaidh, means 'red island,' so called for the vibrant rusty colour of the vegetation in winter The English name, 'Island Roy' is just a phonetic rendering penned hastily by surveyors in the 19th century...so don't ask who Roy was, he didn't exist!
There has been continuous settlement here for several hundred if not thousands of years, and most of the island's residents are descended from original settlers.
The island faced desertion in the early 1800s when Lord Leitrim sought to banish his tenants and put the island's green pastures to use sol|ly for cattle grazing. His plans were thwarted by a female resident who held a 99-year lease on her land, and so all the tenants were allowed to remain and the island was saved for its people.
Today, 26 people live on the island, though it held over 65 some decades ago.
Farming, shellfish-rearing and tourism are the main ways of life of the islanders.
They have invested in new infrastructure to cater for the burgeoning visitor demand.