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Oileán Ruaidh (Irish: red island), anglicised as Island Roy, also called Oileán an Bhráighe (Irish: island of the captive), is a small island in Mulroy Bay, County Donegal, Ireland. It is low lying, gravel-based, and occupies 91.46 acres (37.01 ha; 0.14291 sq mi). It has green fields, abundant growth of seaweed - used for healthy bathing - and the landscape has views of Rossapenna's sand-dunes, the surrounding Mulroy coastline, and the Donegal hills.
It is situated some three and a half miles from the mainland villages of Downings and Carrigart. It was formerly known as Oileán an Bhráighe, meaning 'island of the prisoners,' which is its official name. It formerly had links with Doe Castle on Rossapenna, so this probably explains the origin of that name.
The present name, Oileán Ruaidh, means 'red island,' so called for the vibrant rusty colour of the vegetation in winter. The English name, 'Island Roy' is an anglicisation created by surveyors in the 19th century.
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 19th century when Lord Leitrim sought to banish his tenants and put the island's pastures to use 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 growing visitor demand.
- Oileán an Bhráighe Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved: 2013-03-14.
- Map Ordnance Survey Ireland. Retrieved: 2013-03-14.
- PIA13418: Opportunity's Close-up of a Meteorite: 'Oileán Ruaidh' (False Color) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2010-10-05.