Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 26 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cosmas and Damian
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Irish island with ancient monastic ruins up for auction

J-P Mauro - published on 02/19/19

On a clear day, it looks like paradise.

There is a deserted island with 80 acres of pristine Irish-green landscape and Catholic historical significance off the Connemara coast. High Island, also known as Ardoileán, contains the ruins of a 7th-century monastery believed to be founded by St. Féchín of Fore, which is a national monument maintained by the Irish Office of Public Works. Now, you can become the caretaker of your very own monastic ruins, as the island is up for auction at Spencer Auctioneers.

The Irish Times reports archaeologists have found evidence of human settlement of Ardoileán as far back as 300 BC, but some suggest that humans were visiting the island as far back as 1,000 BC. In the 7th century AD, Ardoileán became the home of a hardy group of monks, believed to be led by St. Féchín of Fore, who is the patron saint of the island.

The island still boasts the monastic structures, including the roofless remains of a church with an altar, a completely intact beehive stone hut, and several other stone structures that have fallen into disrepair. There is also the remains of a water mill, which is believed to be one of the oldest examples of an Irish monastic mill. While the owner of the island will be free to visit the ruins, they will be excluded from the sale, as they are still under the protection of the Irish government.

The island contains two freshwater lakes and a plethora of birds, which has allowed the island to act as a bird sanctuary for many years. In the 19th century the land was leased to copper miners, who abandoned their efforts in the 1820s.

HIGH ISLAND; IRELAND
32cnamart|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 4.0

The ruins of a medieval monastery on High Island, County Galway, Ireland.

In the late 20th century the island came to be owned by Irish poet Richard Murphy, who reportedly loved the idea of the solitude, dictated by weather conditions and the difficulty of reaching the island by boat. It is worth mentioning that the auction house suggests perspective buyers should have access to a helicopter, as the way by boat is “not for the fainthearted.” Of the Island, Murphy said:

“I got excited at the thought of buying this inaccessible holy island, restoring the beehive cells and oratory of its derelict hermitage and preserving the place from destruction,” he wrote in his memoir, The Kick.

However, Author Tim Robinson wrote, “After one spell of five days during which he saw the sun for 20 minutes he gave up spending more than a few hours there at a time,” after declaring that he was “neither a hermit nor a saint.”

Murphy attempted to sell the island to the Irish Government in the 1980s, but their response was much delayed and lacked enthusiasm, causing Murphy to withdraw the sale. He later sold the island in 1998 to his friend Feichin Mulkerrin, who has owned it ever since, maintaining it as a wildlife sanctuary.

Ardoileán is up for sale for €1.25 million ($1.41 million), available to be bid on by all interested parties including the state. The auctioneers note that there is a modern structure on the island with a septic tank, although they note that it is a fixer-upper. The auctioneers would like interested parties to note they “have not tested any apparatus, fixtures, fittings or services.”

Tags:
ArchaeologyCatholic historyIreland
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
2
SLEEPING
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
3
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
4
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
5
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
6
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
7
peace
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.