For Sale: A Private Irish Island With a 1,500-Year-Old Monastery
Hear “private island for sale” and you’re probably picturing swaying palms. Royal blue reefs. A chance for you to go full Richard Branson on a hydrojet.
But High Island’s a decidely different brand of personal islet. Currently listed by Spencer Auctioneers for just $1.4M, the 80-acre, wind-drenched mound of land off the west coast of Ireland won’t light up an Instagram feed or … provide running water. But it does come with a serious dosage of ancient history.
ireland (5 images)
Also known by its Irish name, Ardoileán, High Island is part of County Galway, about one hour and 30 minutes offshore from Galway city by boat. The island is typical for the North Atlantic: rocky shores, treeless, clad in short, tough turf and dotted occasionally with fresh, gray lakes. It is definitely a birder’s haven — you’ll find peregrine falcons, barnacle goose and Arctic tern — but that’s not exactly the draw. That’d be the island’s archaeological history, which would have Dr. Jones himself on a flight within the hour.
There’s a seventh-century monastery on High Island founded by Saint Féichín that once housed up to 70 locals. A suprising amount of the structure remains, no doubt aided by governmental conservation efforts. (The Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government oversees the stone ruins.) Elsewhere on the island, flooring suggest a human settlement potentially as long ago as 300 B.C., while pollen samples suggest people lived here up to 3,000 years ago. More recently, the late Irish-Anglo poet Richard Murphy owned the island from 1969 through 1998.
What could you add, upon purchasing the island? Don’t plan a 36-hole mini golf course just yet. The island doesn’t even have a ferry service (you’ll need to get a speed boat), let alone electricity, and any building plan will need approval from local Irish municipal boards. We’d recommend the conservationist approach. Introduce a clean-energy-powered cottage and work with the government to gently bring tourism to the monastery and other archaeological sites in the vicinity.
For more information on buying the island, head here.
All images via MyHome