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Thursday 26 April 2018

Looking to leave the rat race? 'Unique' property on iconic Great Blasket Island is up for sale - complete with its own beach

Trá Bán, Great Blasket Island. Photo: Fáilte Island
Trá Bán, Great Blasket Island. Photo: Fáilte Island

Anne Lucey

One of the oldest ruins on the Great Blasket Island and land including commonage have come on the market.

This unique property consists of a ruin of a cottage dwelling in the old village on the Island along with 3 parcels of land consisting of circa 1.6137 hectares and also a circa 42 acre share of the commonage land on the island. 

The ruin, and three parcels of land consisting of four acres has been advertised by Dingle Auctioneer Mike Kennedy as “a unique opportunity to purchase a piece of one of the most iconic islands.”

At its peak there was a population of around 190 people, in the 19th century, on the Great Blasket, which survived on fishing had 30 old stone cottages, while a number of two storey houses were built in 1909.

The island, home to writers like Tomas O’Criomhthain, Peig Sayers, and Muiris O’Suilleabhain, and where J M Synge studied Irish, was abandoned in the 1953 amid declining population and harsher winters. It is now largely State owned and visited by up to 10,000 people a year.

The island is also now highly protected with several European and national environmental designations.

Great Blasket Island, as photographed from the air by Raymond Fogarty of Aircam Ireland.
Great Blasket Island, as photographed from the air by Raymond Fogarty of Aircam Ireland.

The southernmost Blasket, Inisvickillane is owned by the family of the late Taoiseach Charles J Haughey.

Mr Haughey’s attempt in the An Blascaod Mor Act of 1989 to preserve ownership of lands the Great Blasket for blood relatives of the original islanders, which would have sterilised development for non-islanders who had bought property there in the 60s and 70s, failed when the Supreme Court struck it out in 1991.

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Ironically, under the current Kerry county development plan, blood relatives of landowners might still enjoy privileges not allowed to complete outsiders. 

The Great Blasket is zoned a prime special amenity area, which means no development is allowed under normal circumstances. However development by family members and close blood relatives such as nephews and nieces, can be entertained in areas of amenity under the current Kerry planning laws. 

Great Blasket Island
Great Blasket Island

The three fields that come with the ruin that is being offered are scattered - with one on the north side of the island and they include a larger field facing east, above the  sandy beach called An Trá Bhán (The White Strand). And there is a third beside the cottage in the (mostly) abandoned village, according to the auctioneer.

The guide price for the “unique property” which would be accessed mostly from Dunquin Pier, the townland across the Blasket Sound that is home for many of the Blasket descendants, is €110,000.

The identity of the vendor, who according to locals lives in Dublin, has not been revealed, but the auctioneer said “the current owners of the parcel that is for sale belong to the same family group and trace their roots on the Island to the early 1800s.”

However, locals say the ruin, in Barra an Bhaile, near Tobar a’ Phoncáin is one of the very oldest on the Blaskets.

It was home the Catháins, from the mid 1800s, kings of the island. Mártan Ó Catháin and his wife Bríde Feiritéar were the first of the Catháins but their descendants, Peaidí Mhártain, a was king and his on, PeatsMhicí, was the last King on the Blasket.


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