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Connacht Tribune

€1.25m island attracts international enquiries

Declan Tierney



There has been interest expressed in acquiring the 80-acre island off the Connemara coast that has come to the market with a price tag of €1.25 million.

The auctioneers selling the island, known as High Island or Ardoilean, have confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that interest has been expressed from three different sources.

Enquiries have come from potential purchasers in the States, the UK while a man in Dublin has also expressed a keen interest in the property.

Luke Spencer of Spencer Auctioneers in Oughterard said that while there has been some mischievous enquiries, he describes these three expressions of interest as ‘genuine’.

The island which is home to ruins and artefacts dating back to 300 BC, is located around three kilometres off the coast from Claddaghduff.

“Those who have made enquiries have just asked for further information regarding the island and access to it.

“None of them have made any offer as yet but it is very early days as the property has only been on the market for more than a week.

“I haven’t been speaking to any of them yet as all of the contact is by email but I am sure they will want to view the island but realistically we will not be able to go out to the island for at least another month,” Luke Spencer added.

The auctioneer is expecting interest to be expressed by the State in acquiring the island given its historical significance and the abundance of bird life, but there has been no contact from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The island is 1.2km long and 0.4km wide, with its highest point at 63.3 metres above sea level and it is assumed that if it is purchased by a private individual, it would be their intention to develop a summer residence there.

By the seventh century, High Island was home to a relatively thriving community of hardy monks. But by the early part of the 19th century, the island was stripped of human life save for a handful of copper miners whose last excavation took place in the 1820s.

Alongside the monastic ruins – the monastery was reputedly founded by Saint Féichín – the island also has an intact stone beehive hut, an old miner’s cottage, a functioning septic tank and two fresh water lakes.

Between 1969 and 1998 the island was owned by poet Richard Murphy and it inspired many of his works including, most notably, an anthology which shared its name.

While Murphy owned the island he was only an occasional visitor and, in Connemara: The Last Pool of Darkness by Tim Robinson, a story is told about how the poet had planned to spend more time there and even bought himself a traditional sailboat for his crossings and had the miner’s cottage partially roofed.

In the mid-1980s, Murphy offered the island as a gift to the nation with the hope that it would be used exclusively as a wildlife sanctuary.

However, according to Robinson, the “State’s response to this was so laggardly that the gesture was withdrawn and eventually the island was sold to a trusted friend of Murphy in Feichin Mulkerrin”.

He has owned the island since then and has worked hard in a low key fashion at keeping it as a wildlife sanctuary.

Mr Spencer said he would be happy to take potential buyers to view the property but only if he could establish they had both a desire and the financial means to acquire the island.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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