Man seeks ‘companion/wife’ for year on deserted island

John McManus: Open-minded about candidate
John McManus: Open-minded about candidate

Some blind dates can seem interminable but one man in search of a woman has promised their rendezvous will only last a year — unless of course true love blossoms.

John McManus, a 36-year-old unemployed hotel manager, is looking for a “companion/wife” to live with him for 12 months on the otherwise deserted island of Inishfree off the Co Donegal coast.

John is unashamedly inspired by the book and subsequent movie released in 1984, Castaway, based on the real-life adventures of writer Gerald Kingsland who spent 1981 on a tropical island with a wife, Lucy Irvine, acquired by small ad — and he plans to write a book about his experiences once back on the mainland.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and when Barry Pilcher, the last remaining resident of Inishfree, left in March, I thought ‘there’s the perfect opportunity’.

“It’s such a shame to see island life declining and really my only other option since I lost my job in January was to emigrate like everyone else. I just think this will be a very interesting social experiment and a way to highlight the importance of the islands as well.”

Leitrim resident, John, who was raised in London by a Leitrim father and Sligo mother, says he is open-minded about the age, looks and background of prospective applicants and his only stipulation — despite what people may think of him — is that they are not crazy.

“I’m looking for someone with a sense of adventure, a great sense of humour and who is definitely not crazy. The island was already home to the Screamers sect in the past so we don’t want a repeat of that.”

He only placed his advertisement on the Gumtree website two days ago but says already he has lots of replies from which he plans to compile a shortlist for interview with a view to taking the boat for Inishfree in January.

He hopes to live in one of the half dozen or so empty cottages on the island, plant vegetables, forage for fuel, eschew the internet and rely on the mainland shops as little as possible.

“I’ve never even done any backpacking or lived in tents so it will be interesting to see how I deal with living a very basic life and the isolation. Relationship dynamics will be very interesting.

“If there is a love interest, that would be great, but we’ll see what happens.”

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