The land comprises a three-acre farm to be divided equally among three prospective individual tenants or couples.
The south-facing smallholding is a short stroll from the coast on the rugged Beara Peninsula. On offer is an opportunity to become self-sufficient and the chance to construct a small eco-dwelling exempt from planning permission.
Running the smallholding has become too arduous for the landowner, who arrived from Britain 30 years ago. He renovated the farmhouse, which he describes as “dry, warm, and comfortable” with a wood-burning stove, running water, and electricity.
“I want to encourage people to live and be self-sufficient in rural Ireland,” he said. “I want to give people the opportunity to prove that it can be done.”
Tenants are encouraged to build an eco-house, such as a cob house, eco-dome, or tiny house to gain practical experience and to farm the land in a sustainable way.
“The idea is that people do their own thing on their piece of land, including constructing their own eco-dwelling or whatever they fancy and they farm the land according to organic, permaculture, bio dynamic principles,” he said.
The land is divided in three so that each couple or individual has their own independence but they can work together when required. “It’s not a commune,” he noted.
While young professionals struggle to meet spiralling rents in city centres around the country, the depopulation of rural Ireland is a concern for the landowner.
He believes there is an over- reliance on traditional building methods that is adding to the country’s housing crisis. Global financial uncertainty and rising energy costs are also an issue, he said.
“The world is on the point of major change: We are going to be faced with a totally new world. That’s why it’s important to be self-sufficient,” he said.
He is offering his farm as a start point for those who have little hope of obtaining a mortgage.
“You can buy an acre of land around here for between €2,000 and €3,000 but the problem arises with planning permission,” he said. “Anything with a structure on it becomes far more expensive and out of reach, financially, for many of those seeking to live an off-grid life.”
The nominal rent will be agreed according to the tenant’s investment in the small-holding and no money will exchange hands, according to the landowner’s mission statement.
The offer, circulated on social media in Ireland and Britain, has prompted hundreds of inquiries. The landowner points out that the reality of living on a thinly-populated wind-blown peninsula will test the stamina of future tenants.
“They need to be able to finance themselves for around 18 months while they get their small holding up and running,” said the landowner. “It takes a lot of work to cultivate one acre. It’s damn hard work, the winters are harsh and there’s no public transport.”
Once he finds the right people, the landowner plans to draw up contracts with prospective tenants. He is considering handing over the farmhouse and land to a trust in the long run.
“I’m quite prepared to turn the place over to a trust so people have continuity,” he said. “I don’t mind giving the place away but don’t want to throw it away.”
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