Fiercely Independent Innishmurry Islanders Fend Off Tax Man

Here is an amusing story about the fiercely independent Innishmurry islanders and their refusal to accommodate a tax collector from the mainland.

First, from The Inter Ocean of Chicago:

Irish Islanders Refuse To Pay Tax

Inhabitants of Small Island Off the Coast of Ireland Govern Themselves and Collector Asks for Battle-Ship to Protect Him.

 — The Sligo county council is much exercised in regard to an island whose inhabitants will not pay rates.

Innishmurry, in the Atlantic ocean, between Sligo and Killybegs, County Donegal, is the island in question. In his report to the local government board the rate collector stated that he could not get a boat on the mainland to take him to the island on such an errand as collecting rates, and at the last meeting of the Sligo county council it was stated that some years ago two officials of the council who tried to land on the island for the same purpose were stoned off the shore by the inhabitants.

Asks for Dreadnought.

The question of how a landing could be effected was discussed by the council at their last meeting, and one member stated that a Dreadnought would be required for the purpose.

The island is one and a half miles long and a half mile broad, and there is no direct communication with it. About fourteen families reside on the island, and they live chiefly on barley, potatoes, and fish.

A special day is fixed every year for the celebration of marriages, as there are several months in the year when it is impossible for a clergyman to visit the island.

Although out of humanity’s reach, and with few opportunities of reading the newspapers, they are a quick witted and intelligent people, and are well versed in current affairs. There are several curious stones on the island called “cursing stones,” and it is considered an unlucky thing for a person to turn these stones upon himself or disrespect them.

Conduct Their Own Services.

The Islanders conduct their own religious services on Sundays. At midday they all assemble in the remains of a sixth century church and recite the rosary and other prayers. One of the islanders, an old man, acts as king and settles any disputes that arise, but as a rule the greatest harmony prevails.

An article in another paper () on the death of the former king, Michael Haters, who had ruled for 35 years, claimed:

There are no police on the island, all matters being settled by the “king,” there are no priests, and the people are never called upon to pay taxes.

Innishmurry is also called Inishmurey and Inishmorey and probably a few other spellings if you look hard enough. Wikipedia seems to prefer Inishmurray.

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