Whether it’s as a seasonal lighthouse keeper in San Francisco or as a lifelong recluse lost amid a private, country-sized reserve in Patagonia, we all seek somewhere to escape to. Though the world may feel like it’s shrinking, there are still a surprising number of very secluded places to build your dream home left on this planet — some more affordable than you think. One unique private island was newly announced for sale off the coast of Ireland, and it could be yours for less than a modest, two-bedroom home in San Francisco.
Ardoilean — “High Island” to Statesiders — is situated in the Atlantic Ocean less than two miles off Ireland’s west coast. On paper, the island offers everything a nature-loving couple could ask for. The 80 acres of rolling grassland include two natural freshwater lakes and jaw-dropping views of the ocean and the coast of Connemara. At its peak, the island rises more than two hundred feet above sea level. Numerous inlets cut into its dramatic rock formations, promising plenty of places to explore, dive, or kayak. This all provides the perfect base for an abundance of bird life including petrels, fulmars, shearwaters, gulls, and an occasional pair of breeding peregrine falcons each spring.
But, what’s most interesting — and why the €1,250,000 (USD $1.4 million) price tag is such a steal — is the island’s incredible history. Ancient ruins and artifacts found on the island date to at least 300 B.C., and there are some evidentiary pollen samples (that’s really a thing) that date as far back as 1,000 B.C. The flooring that remains in a church found on the island indicates the likelihood of an early Iron Age settlement sometime between 300 B.C. and 20 A.D. A monastery that once stood there sometime in the seventh century was likely home to around 60 people.
From the late 18th century onward, High Island was owned by the Martin Family (one of the great Galway tribes) before being mined for copper, then subsequently changing hands to the Irish poet Robert Murphy for the last half of the 20th century. Today, the only intact remains are the monastery including the church, the altar, and a beehive hut just east of the church itself. The ruins are technically owned by the Irish Department of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government and are not part of the island’s sale. The government was kind enough, however, to install a small modern building with a septic tank and rainwater collection system. So, there’s that.
Interested parties can inquire at Spencer Auctioneers. Just bring your wallet and a few charming words of Gaelic if you expect to be taken seriously.