A LONDON Irishman is looking for a woman daring enough to live with him on an uninhabited island off the coast of Donegal for a year.
John McManus from Kingsbury says he has received a huge response since posting his advert on Gumtree. And he believes a second-generation Irish woman may make the perfect companion on Inishfree.
“We’re going to be cut-off,” he says. “No TV, no radio, no social media, internet or newspapers. There is electricity and water on the island, but it’s only one square mile in area. The isolation is going to be the hardest thing for me.”
He says he is not building the experience around the hope of finding love but said it would be nice if it came along… as the cottage only has one bedroom!
“It’s up to both people what they make of it and whether we can make it together,” he added. “How we get on and how that person experiences the island as an individual.”
The 36-year-old says he dreamed up the idea after watching the original Castaway film.
“I was working for a hotel in Dublin for five years, lost my job, and had the same choice as lots of people. Do I emigrate or what do I do?” he said. “Then I started thinking about the idea again, and the original film with Oliver Reed — which was based on a true story — and I said why not.”
He was inspired by the island of Inishfree after reading that artist Barry Pilcher, its only inhabitant, was leaving after 20 years.
“I was looking for an island, and then I heard that Barry was leaving,” John said. “I sent him an email and asked him if it would be possible to get a loan of his cottage for a year. He said it was up for sale but I could have it for free until it’s sold.”
McManus said his advert on Gumtree received more than 3,000 views in the first few days and from that he has received nearly 100 “serious” applications.
“There have been a lot of time-wasters,” he said. “But I’ve been surprised, an awful lot of professional women have contacted me, from lawyers to teachers to doctors and many from the Dublin area. Maybe they want to escape, get back to basics for a year. I don’t know.”
But the budding castaway said that many have been put off when they’ve learned exactly what the experience entails.
John said he is planning to visit the mainland just once a week to boost food reserves during the winter. But that will be the only fleeting contact with civilisation.
“I’d imagine most of the time will be spent fishing, making repairs to the cottage and growing vegetables,” he added. “But there will also be time to enjoy the sea and explore the island, read, relax, whatever.
John is hoping to serialise his experience in London’s Time Out magazine and he is planning to keep a daily diary, which he will then turn into a book.
His year on Inishfree begins in mid January.
If you are female, between the age of 25-35, have a good sense of humour and feel you want to join John in Inishfree, email 5boderg@ gmail.com.