Wanted: Two People with ‘basic survival skills’ To Look After Great Blasket Island

By Doug Williams
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IRELAND - CIRCA 1900:  Great Blasket Island, Ireland - Dunleavy house and the ruins of beehive hut.  (Photo by NUTAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
IRELAND - CIRCA 1900: Great Blasket Island, Ireland - Dunleavy house and the ruins of beehive hut. (Photo by NUTAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
 
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Great Blasket Island: We all know that this modern world can get a little hectic and frantic sometimes, connected as we are to just about every person, every website and every news organization just by firing up our phones or computers.

 

“Internet addiction” is a very real, modern day dilemma that has forced some folks to try to give up their wired worlds entirely, for fear of doing little other than staring at screens and constantly updating their contacts lists.

There are only so many funny cat videos people should watch in one day before admitting they have a problem.

 

And of course work only makes it worse. Whether one works from home or at a busy, downtown office, being plugged into the world is mandatory for almost everyone.

Great Blasket Island, Ireland – The island was evacuated in 1953 when their number decreased to a point where they could no longer survive as a separate community. Photo by NUTAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Great Blasket Island, Ireland – The island was evacuated in 1953 when their number decreased to a point where they could no longer survive as a separate community. Photo by NUTAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Almost everyone, that is. But not for the managers of the cabins on Great Blasket Island, in Count Kerry, Ireland, off the coast of the Atlantic.

For those folks, being on the Internet is not a job requirement at all; in fact, a willingness to unplug is a desirable quality in the people who run this family business.

Now, the two individuals who manage the properties are looking for new staff, two people to take care of the business this coming spring and summer.

Alice Hayes and Billy O’Connor, whose family owns the island cottages, are looking for two hearty, sturdy folks — preferably a couple or two close friends — to assume their duties this coming spring, and commit to the caretaker positions for six months.

Hayes posted an ad on their Instagram account, and were stunned by the response — more than 27,000 applicants wrote and expressed enthusiasm about the job.

“It’s amazing how many people have applied,” Hayes recently told Online Travel. “Emails have completely clogged up my inbox, and I have to go through them all, as they are mixed up with our bookings.”

The couple was also amazed at the geographic distance from where applicants hail. Some live in Canada — a country with a similar climate to Ireland’s, at least during winter — and some from Iran and other nations.

Most important, Hayes said, is that the successful hires know what they are in for, in terms of the island’s ‘rustic’ lifestyle. There is no electricity, and no hot water; cold water comes from a spring on Blasket.

Bjørn Christian Tørrissen. CC BY-SA 3.0
Bjørn Christian Tørrissen. CC BY-SA 3.0

Furthermore, there are no permanent residents there, so one must be happy living a life of solitude, and yet be willing to serve strangers in the Coffee Shop and run the Accommodations Office during the tourist season.  They must also have “basic survival skills,” Hayes noted.

Being fit is a necessity too, Hayes acknowledged, as there is little to do but hike and swim — if one is daring enough to brave the chilly water. Though the beaches are sandy and almost tropical looking in some photos, warm clothes and lots of books to read are mandatory.

One individual who worked on the island from April until October of 2019 is Lesley Kehoe, who was a caretaker at a hostel.

She thought she could readily adapt to the rugged life on the island, but told herself she would not accept certain difficulties — like not having access to hot showers.

“I said I was going to heat up water every day,” Kehoe recently said  “that I’d never have a cold shower…but to be honest, I just decided to brave it.”

It’s that kind of “bravery” and willingness to adjust one’s habits that Hayes and O’Connor are looking for. That, and loving one’s own company are likely the two most important qualifications the jobs demand.

At the time of this writing, the owners had not selected the next managers for the cabins on Blasket Island.

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But they will probably select young, adventurous types who can do without a few modern conveniences in exchange for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on Europe’s most westerly point.  An experience they can one day tell their grandchildren about — from the warmth and comfort of a big house in a bustling city, of course.

 
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