The offer of ‘total solitude’, and in stressful Covid-19 times also the chance for real social distancing along the Wild Atlantic Way, comes with the arrival of West Cork’s Castle Island to the international property market.
Set at the mouth of Schull Harbour, in Roaringwater Bay, the stunningly-sited 123-acre island was last inhabited back in the 1870s.
It's crying out now for new life.
Today, as it comes up for the taking for a price "in excess of €1 million," it contains grazing land, glorious shingle beaches, the ruins of fifteen C19th century cabins, a castle in ruins, plus a secure pier and slipway for boat access.
Castle Island is set between Long Island, which is inhabited, and Horse Island, which has been on the open market for the past two years. It has distant views of the craggy Fastnet Lighthouse too, 'Ireland's teardrop.' as it was the last sight emigrants had in coffin ships in earlier hard and pestilential times.
(Horse Island, with seven high-quality houses on its 157 acres, went to market in 2018, carrying a €6m-plus price guide, with advanced international interest shown in its purchase and possibilities.)
Selling agents for Castle Island are Knight Frank, and Dominic Daly in Cork city, who’s a bit of an island selling specialist, selling ones on lakes and estuaries, off the west coast of Ireland, right up to Donegal, along with several in Roaringwater Bay, including West Skeam and, some years back, Horse Island itself.
The agents are said to be acting for a UK-based family, who’ve owned Castle Island since the 1970s. It's one of only a handful of wholly privately-owned islands off the Irish coast, with its castle ruin as a ‘cherry on top’ for additional boasting rights.
Speaking of boasting rights, another Roaringwater Bay tower castle, Kilcoe, is famously owned by actor Jeremy Irons who spent millions of euros on rescuing and restoring his C15th McCarthy Castle, the largest the bay, on a two-acre island linked to the mainland and postcard-pretty in its peach-hued render.
Castle Island’s got quite good grazing land, and the visible remains of lazy beds from earlier tillage days, and Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in 1837 recorded 89 inhabitants, living in 15 “indifferently-built small cabins”, in three clusters.
Some are clustered around the 14th-century castle built by O’Donovan More according to Lewis and claimed now as one of several ruined O’Mahony castles defensively strung along the coastline here, protecting that clan’s abundant resources, charging for fishing, fish-processing facilities, supplies, vittles and freshwater. They formed strong alliances with Spanish and French fishing fleets, an alliance which when it came to the attention of the English Crown led to the O'Mahony's eventual demise.
One cluster is close to the island’s access pier and slipway, sheltered from prevailing winds and the Atlantic’s largest waves, where the original O'Mahony castle stands, and their existence may assist the island’s next owners in getting permission for some habitable dwellings here once more.
Estate agent Dominic Daly, acting jointly with Knight Frank, says the sale now “is a great opportunity for anyone interested in all water sports, particularly sailing and fishing and the island also benefits from the warm Gulf Stream and mild southwesterly winds.”
Future uses of the island could be for private occupancy, or some tourism-related development, outdoor pursuits and some limited agricultural use, it’s suggested.
“The island can offer total solitude with substantial scope to develop its considerable amenities,” Mr Daly adds, pointing to multiple harbours in the likes of Schull, Baltimore, Rossbin and Crookhaven, as well as Cape Clear.