Lonely Planet Writer

You can own an Irish island with a Star Wars-type beehive hut

If you want to own an Irish island complete with a mini-version of one of  Skellig Michael’s beehive huts, now’s your chance. High Island, known as Ardoileán, is a deserted island located approximately 3.5km off the west coast of Connemara in Galway, and it’s for sale for €1.25m ($1.41m).

High Island, known as Ardoileán off the west coast of Ireland. Photo courtesy of Spencer Auctioneers

The island spans 80 acres and rises to a maximum height of 63.3m above sea level, offering stunning scenery and views. It is home to the ruins of an ancient monastic settlement, and there’s a completely intact beehive hut there and the collapsed remains of three similar beehive huts. It is believed that the monastery was originally constructed in the 7th century, and there were once between 50 and 70 people living on the island. The monastery is a national monument that is owned by the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government and is therefore excluded from the sale.

Remains of the 7th-century monastic settlement on Ardoileán. Photo courtesy of Spencer Auctioneers

There is an abundance of birdlife on the island with many types of gulls, fulmars, Manx shearwaters, petrels and oystercatchers. A pair of peregrine falcons breed each spring, and in autumn, barnacle geese arrive from mainland Europe and spend winter on the island. It has been designated a Special Protection Area under the EU Bird Directive of special conservation interest.  Circa 1820, there was a period of copper mining on the island and the mine shaft is still open and visible.

It is believed that some of the ruins and artefacts on the island date back to 300 BC, and evidence from pollen samples date occupation to back after 1000 BC. Some of the stone flooring found in the church directly correlates to an early Iron Age settlement between 300 BC and 20 AD. The foundation of the monastery on High Island is credited to Saint Féichín, who is said to have died in 665 during the yellow plague. The National Monument Service has carried out detailed and extensive conservation works of the buildings and ruins, during which almost 50 ornately-decorated cross slabs were discovered.

The island measures 1.2kms by 0.4km and has a functioning septic tank and two freshwater lakes. It is believed that the buyer could potentially secure planning permission for a home there if sympathetically done. Previous owners of the island include Irish poet Richard Murphy, and several of his poems were directly influenced by his visits and trips there.

For further information on High Island, please see Spencer Auctioneers’ website here.