Fancy your own island? Here are four islands on the market in Ireland
Roeillaun Island, Co Mayo €100k
Country pile? Tick. Flash car? Tick. Helicopter? Tick. Hot tub? Tick. So what do the wealthy folk of this world spend their money on when it looks like they already have everything? The answer, it seems, is their own fiefdom - a private island.
When you imagine islands, you may think of deserted sunny beaches, palm trees and luxury wooden huts, so it may be a surprise to learn that millionaires sometimes opt for Irish islands. They may not be sun-drenched, but that doesn't seem to deter overseas buyers who have the cash to splash.
Cork estate agent Dominic Daly is an expert when it comes to selling islands in Ireland. He currently has five on his books, ranging in price from €150,000 to €1.9m. After over 40 years in the business, Daly has seen it all.
So what kind of people decide that buying an Irish island would be a good idea?
"Dreamers," says Daly. "People who like the idea of having their own fiefdom, their own laws, their own money. Mainly overseas people. We sold an island last year off Donegal to some Belgians but I don't know why they bought it, because it's not exactly accessible."
The Belgians weren't the only people who had romantic ideas of owning an island. When Michael Jackson spent time in Ireland in 2007, he came to Daly in the hope of bagging a bargain. Daly found himself on a boat with Jackson, his three children and their nanny to view an island off west Kerry.
"He asked if a security fence could be built around it," says Daly. "He didn't want anyone else to come to the island."
As it turned out, the King of Pop was pretty broke at the time, so it's no surprise that he never came back to Daly to seal the deal.
Those who have owned Irish islands include John Lennon, Michael Flatley and the lateral thinking guru Edward de Bono. And famously Charles Haughey furnished his own private realm on Inishvickillane.
One island that is currently on the market was bought in 2001 by an American couple with a clearer vision than Jackson. Kevin O'Farrell and Lori Kearney knew the minute they saw Mermaid Isle that it was exactly what they were looking for.
"The most obvious attraction was its immediacy to the crystal clear sheltered sea," recalls Kevin. "For centuries, the seaside property was owned by generations of people who made a living by catching fish, lobsters, crabs, prawns and scallops. Most of my career has been devoted to designing aquariums and natural history museums. In all of my exhibits, I encouraged visitors to go outside, get wet and meet nature head-on. In aquariums, millions are spent developing artificial tide pools that stimulate nature. At Mermaid Isle, we were surrounded by the real thing, the whole ecosystems, from plankton to invertebrates, to fish, birds, seals and even dolphins."
Mermaid Isle, Illaundrane, Glanlough Lower, is a spectacular 25-acre oceanfront property close to Sneem in Co Kerry, on sale for €1.9m. The sale, through joint agents Majella O'Sullivan and Dominic Daly, includes two striking homes on 12 acres of the mainland. It also consists of half a 26-acre private island, turbary rights to three acres of bog and has over 4,000 ft of shoreline, two hot tubs, boat launches and moorings.
The main house and the guest cottage have been restored by Kevin and Lori, and both face south over the secluded cove with a hot tub each so you can enjoy the sea views in style.
Kevin says the name of the island came from local seanachies. "Mermaid Isle was named by elders from our three local communities - Sneem, Castlecove and Caherdaniel. The Irish mermaid story is based upon the seal people, selkies, who can remove their sea cloaks and become human. Those selkies come to our door every morning and I join them in my wetsuit," laughs Kevin.
Beatles fans have just missed out on the opportunity to snap up Dorinish Island in Clew Bay. The land bought by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1967 sold last year after a number of years on the market. The couple never got to live on the island themselves but Lennon rented it out to Sid Rawle in the 70s, who set up a commune for about 25 people. The self-sufficient bunch lived in harmony for two years, until bad weather eventually drove them off the island. Beatle Island, as it became known locally, was sold by Ono after Lennon's death.
Rawle wasn't the only hippie who enjoyed the freedom of island living. A group known as The Screamers took over the island of Inishfree off Donegal in 1974. They happily practised their primal scream therapy on the island until they split in 1988.
For those who like the idea of being lord of their own land, islands currently for sale through Dominic Daly include Shore Island in the Shannon Estuary in Co Clare, and Carbery and Cold Islands in Dunmanus Bay off West Cork.
Shore Island is 30 acres and about 10 minutes off the coast by boat. There is a shell of an old dwelling on the island, as well as a number of old ruins that could be used to create a unique home for someone who values their privacy. It is currently being used to graze cattle and has a guide price of €900,000.
Carbery and Cold Islands have been on the market for a few years. When they initially went on the market in 2007, the guide price was €1.26m. This dropped to €990,000 in 2013, and is now at €599,000; the same price as a four-bed semi in Rathfarnham.
It is a 34-acre island with a new four-bedroom property and its own beach. It also has a sophisticated generator house, which is timber-built with a slated roof in keeping with the main house. The elaborate electrical system is driven by both 500AM wind generator and also a separate 37.5KRB heavy duty generator driven by a four-cylinder Petta engine. There is also a provision for the installation of solar cells to provide an alternative source.
An island that won't break the bank is Mannion's Island, also in Dunmanus Bay off West Cork. The four-acre site is located very close to the shoreline and is accessible all year round.
With a guide of €150,000, the island doesn't come with any infrastructure, but on the eastern side there is a small, sheltered cove that is ideal for swimming or kayaking. Any building on the island would be subject to planning permission. This is for sale through Dominic Daly and Vladi Private Islands (www.vladi-private-islands.de).
For €100,000, Sherry FitzGerald Crowley is selling Roeillaun Island, just north of Clew Bay between Newport and Mulranny in Co Mayo. The 22-acre plot is a handsome site with no dwellings but about 18 acres of the island is of fair agricultural quality.
* Dominic Daly, Cork (021) 4277399
* Majella O'Sullivan (064) 2101
* Vladi Private Island (+4940) 338989, email@example.com
* Sherry FitzGerald Crowley (098) 29009