19 Jan 2021
The dream job of working as a caretaker on a remote island off Ireland’s famous Wild Atlantic Way is up for grabs.
Two caretaking vacancies for the Great Blasket Island, which lies off the coast of County Kerry were posted on social media last week.
Billy O’Connor and his partner Alice Hayes, who own four cottages and a coffee shop on the island, are offering the amazing job opportunity to a pair of friends or a couple, and will look at applications from basically anywhere in the world.
With no hot running water and electricity, the Great Blasket Island, or An Blascaod Mór in Irish, is the main island in the group of six which lie about three miles off the coast of the stunning Dingle Peninsula in Kerry.
Home to diverse animal, sea and plant life, the island is one of Ireland’s most iconic, having been inhabited for centuries by a small, close-knit Irish speaking population who followed the traditional ways of farming, fishing and weaving.
Stretching over 1,100 acres of unspoiled, largely mountainous terrain, the Great Blasket Island is approximately four miles long by half a mile wide, alive with Irish history and offers a pristine natural environment.
The island was once home to the late, great female author and storyteller Peig Sayers, whose writings were required reading in Irish schools, and at one stage the islanders were the subject of important linguistic studies for their use of a largely unchanged version of the Irish language.
At its peak, the island’s population was only around 175 residents and it was finally vacated in 1954 following a decline in population alongside concerns about the difficulty of reaching it in the event of an emergency.
Today, a boat trip through the incredible coastal scenery and tour of the island is one of the best experiences to be had on the beautiful Dingle Peninsula.
There are still some ancient ruins for visitors to explore, and simple, self-catering accommodation is also available in five restored cottages.
Annie Birney and Eoin Boyle were the Great Blasket caretakers in 2020
Last year more than 40,000 applications for two summer caretaker jobs on the island were received, as enquiries flooded in by phone, email, social media and paper applications from around the world and from as far afield as Mexico, Finland and Argentina.
Alice Hayes can expect to see a huge number of people applying for the role as, after last year’s job was listed, more than 23,000 people had applied – and this time the dream job is likely to draw much interest once again.
We asked her for a more information on the role and what she thinks caretakers can expect from the experience:
Q. Give us a bit of a general overview of the role, what does it day to day of the job entail?
A. A general day would be:
• Ensuring the coffee shop is prepped and bathrooms are clean ready for opening.
• Guests check out @ 10 am. Once checked out you must proceed with full clean of 4 self-catering cottages and get them ready for new arrivals.
• 1 pm – coffee shop open, serving teas and coffee to day visitors throughout the day.
• Check new arrivals in – this time varies depending on tides.
• Coffee shop closes approx 5 pm.
• Clean, re-stock and set up coffee shop ready for the next day.
Q. What did previous caretakers have to say about the experience?
A. As far as we are aware they really enjoyed their experience! I think it was very different to what they expected as the season can become very intense.
Q. What, in your opinion, is the most appealing thing about the Great Blasket island?
A. We find the appeal is different for everyone, that’s what makes the Island so attractive.
If wildlife is your interest, it has an abundance of bird life, seal life and marine life. If incredible scenery/photography is your interest, it is world class & very difficult to get better views (in our biased opinion :) ) anywhere else in the world. If history is of interest, it is steeped in history and literature with an old village that was abandoned in 1953, along with a ring fort and many beehive huts dating back to pre 13th century.
For anyone who is living and working on the island , the solitude, space and freedom along with all the above and so much more that can’t be put into words creates huge appeal. I don’t think we ever came across a person who visited the Island say they would never return.
Great Blasket Island Accommodation
Great Blasket Island Ruined Houses
Dolphins surround Great Blasket Island
Visitors to the Great Blasket Island
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