The family who bought their Donegal island home on eBay
They bought the house for ‘between €50,000 and €100,000’
Sam McGowan and her partner Jamie Walker found their Arranmore home on eBay
Sam McGowan and her partner Jamie Walker were living in London’s commuter belt in Rainham, Kent with their two children, Logan, age 5, and Mia, age 8, and looking to broaden their horizons.
While trawling through websites looking for land locally where they could ride their motorbikes freely, they came across a house for sale on eBay on the island of Arranmore off the Co Donegal coast.
Intrigued, the couple got in touch via Skype with the man selling the two-storey five-bedroom detached house. They followed up with a visit to the property and an invitation to try it for themselves .
So on a windswept day in January, the day after Sam’s 30th birthday, the couple travelled without their children, to see what was on offer.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy in his live radio show from Arranmore at the start of a week of broadcasts from posts along the Wild Atlantic Way, Sam said the house was quite the sight, and the owner’s dogs had made themselves very much at home.
But they fell in love with the seven square mile island and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing they bought the house for “somewhere between €50,000 and €100,000”.
They moved over at the end of March and the children are attending school locally and learning Irish in an island gaeltacht. Five-year-old Logan can already count as gaeilge, and even Sam can has learned the basics: dia duit and slán.
Both Sam and Jamie have Irish backgrounds, and before Sam’s grandfather died earlier this year he was overjoyed to hear she was returning to Ireland. In the back pages of his bible she discovered a family tree that lists Gallaghers, McCleans and McBrides, all good Donegal surnames, as being related.
“We had no direct connection with the island but I feel like I was drawn here,” Sam says.
The first tombstone she encountered in the local graveyard carried the McGowan name, so she’s now actively researching her roots to see if she has any connections to the island.
For the family the real surprise is the sense of community on Aran. “Everyone here knows everyone and looks out for each other,” she says, but it’s the quality of life that has brought them the most joy.
“We look out at the sea every day. The kids go to the beach numerous times and can run in and have a swim. They’re able to be children and run free. In England I couldn’t take me eyes off them.”