Nab a deserted Irish island for $1.4 million -- but bring a scarf

Tara John, CNNPublished 15th February 2019
A craggy island off the west coast of Ireland which was home to iron age settlers, medieval monks and a poet in search of inspiration has gone on sale for €1.25m (£1.1m). SOURCE: spencerauctioneers.com
(CNN) — Freshwater lakes, peregrine falcons and a ruined monastery are some of the delights awaiting the buyer of an island off the west coast of Ireland -- as long as they don't mind living in a derelict cottage without running water or electricity.
High Island, which rises 206 feet above sea level and slopes down to cliffs that lead to inlets, has gone on sale for 1.25 million euros ($1.4 million).
Sitting two miles off the Connemara coast, the 80-acre island is steeped in archeological history, bird-life and spectacular cliff-side views of the Atlantic. But a little more work is needed to make it habitable.
Luke Spencer, of Spencer Auctioneers, which is selling the craggy outpost, told CNN that whoever ends up buying the island can "amend the cottage, extend or renovate it, or build a new property but it would be subject to planning permission."
High Island was home to iron age settlers, medieval monks and a poet in search of inspiration.
High Island was home to iron age settlers, medieval monks and a poet in search of inspiration.
They will also have to get hold of a speedboat or helicopter to reach the island, which is home to numerous types of gulls, fulmars, petrels and oyster catchers.
"It takes an hour to walk end to end," Spencer said, adding that the island would be of interest to conservationists as it is a European Union special protection area.
The remoteness of the island hasn't not deterred prospective buyers. Since going on sale last Friday, it has "generated a lot of interest" among American and British buyers, said Spencer. "Not many islands currently on sale have monasteries on it, or have significant historic interest dating back to 1,000 BC."
Pollen evidence suggests there was a human settlement there around 3,000 years ago, while archeologists believe monks built a monastery in the seventh century, according to a press release from the auction house. It was apparently founded by the Irish Saint Féichín, who died in 665 during what was called the Yellow Plague.
The ruins of the monastery, which include beehive huts, a church, altar and graves, are owned and maintained by the Irish Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government -- and are not part of the sale. The floors of the church are also thought to be built on an early Iron Age settlement.
 It takes about an hour to walk the length of High Island.
It takes about an hour to walk the length of High Island.
The island is being sold by a private Irish seller, Spencer said.
The state also owns and maintains a 970-square-foot building close to the derelict cottage. The structure has a septic tank -- which Spender said indicates there is a good chance the buyer would get planning permission to build a new dwelling.
Between 1969 and 1998, the island was owned by Irish poet Richard Murphy.
"In his personal memoirs published by Granta in 'The Kick' (2002), Murphy remembers the opportunity when the previous owner considered selling the island: 'I got excited at the thought of buying this inaccessible holy island, restoring the beehive cells and oratory of its derelict hermitage and preserving the place from destruction,'" the auctioneer's statement said.