The tiny island in Ireland’s Clew Bay has had a storied history, including a brief spell as a “hippie commune” when owned by the late Beatles musician John Lennon.
Occasionally, an island will appear on the international market where the allure is not necessarily its sandy beaches or lavish holiday home, but the stories that surround it. A small and unassuming island in the north of Ireland, Dorinish is just 19 acres in size, and tucked into a remote corner of Clew Bay. Throughout its history, it has variously been used for collecting ship’s ballast from its rocky coast, and its green meadows served as grazing pasture for sheep and cattle. This all changed in 1967, however, when Dorinish caught the eye of one of the world’s most famous men.
Lore has it that there are as many islands in Clew Bay as there are days in a year, a fanciful myth that speaks volumes about this region of Northern Island. Legends of fairies and pirate queens also feature prominently in its history; perhaps it was this mystical, otherworldly nature that drew Beatle John Lennon to its shores. In the late 1960’s, he bought Dorinish, which is actually two islands joined by a stone causeway, for a reported £1,700. He was granted planning permission to build a small home, but the complications of life – and the failure of his marriage – put these ambitions on hold.
Still, the island was a source of pleasure for Lennon, who was said to have found a sense of peace when visiting. In 1970, he decided to share Dorinish with his friends, including activist Sid Rawle, known in the media as the “King of the Hippies”. Rawle and his followers established a commune on the island, which lasted for several years until the fierce battering of an Atlantic storm destroyed their camp. Dorinish was seldom visited after abandonment by the hippies, although Lennon and his wife often spoke of creating a home there. Sadly, it was not to be. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, ended up selling the island for £30,000 a few years after his unfortunate death in 1980..
Now, Dorinish has come full circle – used sometimes as a grazing site for livestock, but largely left alone. There’s no trace left of the glamorous days of Lennon; that is, aside from the occasional pilgrimage from Beatles admirers. The current owners, who bought the island from Ono in 1984, have listed the island with local brokerage Sherry Fitzgerald Crowley, with an asking price of €300,000.The agents have said that interest has been plentiful, even from far-off places like Dubai and the USA. Dorinish could certainly make a peaceful retreat for its new owner – as long as they don’t mind a visit here or there from a devoted Beatles fan.
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