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Sales of Irish private islands soar as international buyers warm to their isolation, safety, 'green' appeal and value for money




Horse Island

Horse Island



SALES of Irish islands have soared over the past five years as international buyers warm to their isolation, safety, 'green' appeal and value for money compared to Caribbean and Mediterranean hideaways.

One specialist sales website has seen the number of its Irish islands on offer almost halved due to so-called 'boutique' sales over recent years.

Three years ago, Private Islands Online (PIO) had a total of nine Irish properties for sale ranging from isolated islands off the west and south west coasts to smaller, more sheltered islands located in Irish lakes.

Now, their island offerings have been reduced to five including Rabbit Island, Inish Beg, Shore, West Calf and Mannion's Island.

Auctioneers stressed that given the increasing interest in environmental protection and 'green' living, islands have never been as attractive to wealthy investors.

Currency trends have also made Irish islands extremely attractive to investors.

Amongst the highest profile Irish island sales occurred in 2020 when then 157 acre Horse Island off west Cork sold for €5.5m.

Incredibly, it sold via video with the purchaser - a Cypriot investor - never having actually visited the island, It was amongst the most developed of Irish islands on offer over recent years.

It boasted its own six bedroom luxury main house and six guest cottages as well as its own pier, helipad and games house complete with sauna.

Another sale involved Castle Island, again located in west Cork.

The 123 acre island - located in Roaringwater Bay - was sold for €1.5m by its longtime owner.

Its new owner is an English businessman who is based in France and wanted the west Cork island as a future retreat.

Last year, the dune-covered Mayo island of Bartragh sold for €1.1m.

English golfer and Masters champion Nick Faldo had hoped to build a golf course on the island but his dream never came to fruition.

Bartragh comprises 440 acres of mostly sand dunes located in Killala Bay.

Its new owner, understood to be a European investor, hopes to develop the island for an environmentally-sustainable farming operation complete with a luxury home capable of being used for high-end holidays.

PIO list the selling points of some Irish islands as accessibility to the mainland, existing facilities or ruined structures capable of securing planning permission for new luxury homes.

Land for farming is also a major selling point for European and North American buyers who are keen to underline their 'green' credentials.

Amongst the most attractive islands still available on the market is West Calf off the west Cork coast.

West Calf Island, the most westerly of the three Calf Islands in Roaringwater Bay in west Cork, is being offered for sale complete with several derelict farmhouses which may allow any purchaser to develop their own luxury island hideaway.

The island comprises of 25 hectares (62 acres) freehold and is some 4km off the west Cork coast.

PrivateIslandsOnline said the West Calf Island offers a dream life with "beautiful scenery and excellent sailing...a perfect balance between the peaceful seclusion of your own island and also the many interesting historic villages and towns of southwest Cork to enjoy and explore."

At its highest point the island is 28m high and it offers its own freshwater lake.

Under Cork County Development Plan guidelines, any use for the island which benefits the local community would enhance any development plans

- with the sellers suggesting an Alpaca farm.

"There is a freshwater lake traditionally used for livestock on the island so perhaps Alpacas might add the necessary spice," it advised.

Over 100 years ago, some 20 people lived on the island though it has effectively been uninhabited for decades.

The 1911 Census revealed that the three Calf islands off west Cork boasted a total population of 80 people with a schoolhouse on Middle Calf Island.

Of the three islands, East Calf Island is now the only one inhabited though this is during the summer months.

The major inhabited Cork islands are nearby including Cape Clear and Sherkin Island with the iconic Fastnet Rock just to the south.

West Calf Island offers no utility services such as electricity or running water - and access is only via boat to the east of the island where there is a gentle shelf down into the sea.

However, there is no dock or jetty.

Boat services to the island would likely operate from Schull.

The sellers advise that fishing from the island is "fantastic...with wrasse, sea bass, mackerel and pollack all in abundance. Lobster from the ravine is tasty indeed. On the mainland the River Ilen offers brown and sea trout and also Atlantic salmon."

Four other Irish islands are currently on the market for private purchase - Mannion, Shore, Inish Beg and Rabbit islands with prices varying from €245,000 to over €1m.

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