This film is part of Free

Tribe of the Sun

The ill-fated dreams of Sid Rawls’ band of ‘ultra hippies’ attempting a self-sufficient communal life on John Lennon’s ‘Beatle Island’.

Documentary 1972 24 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


An extremely rare film of the alternative community that settled on the uninhabited Dorinish island off Co Mayo, owned by John Lennon and given custodianship to Sid Rawle, ‘King of the Hippies’, in 1970. Leeds’ maverick filmmaker Alan Sidi was on hand to film and interview members of the community that settled there about their way of life. He returns a year later to find just one member surviving, Tom, recounting how the promise of a non-materialistic lifestyle fell apart.

Alan Sidi was the inspirational force behind many of the films of Leeds Mercury Movie Makers, as well as over a hundred of his own. His wife, Kay, came from Westport on the mainland where the commune members obtained their provisions. John Lennon bought the island for £1,700 in 1967 as a hideaway for himself and his then wife, Cynthia, and later with Yoko Ono, having a psychedelic caravan sent over. In fact Lennon only found time to visit the island a couple of times. Rawle, a campaigner for land rights, and his group of 200 Hyde Park Diggers were looking for an island to set up a commune, and around 25 eventually did. After Lennon's death Ono sold the island to a farmer and donated the proceeds to an Irish orphanage.