Dramatically perched on an elevated precipice on the largest island in Clew Bay is Clare Island Lighthouse.
If you were to draw a line from the building set on the craggy cliffs across the Atlantic, you’d end up in Boston. But its remote location is causing a bit of a stir due to the hype created by Martin McDonagh’s Golden Globe-winning film The Banshees of Inisherin.
Its stunning site offers commanding views of Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and Keem Bay on Achill Island, where many of the most scenic shots in the movie were filmed.
The history of this prominent nautical landmark dates back to 1806, when it was constructed by the largest landowner in Mayo at the time, the marquis of Sligo, as a beacon to warn passing ships.
A decade later the original lighthouse was destroyed by fire resulting from the snuffing of a candlewick, and it was replaced in 1818.
It was decommissioned on September 29th, 1965, at 7.45am, when its light, which had given over 150 years of unbroken service, was finally extinguished due to the fact that its beams were sometimes occluded due to fog.
It was subsequently purchased by the Timmerman family, who turned the property into a guest house where Jean Kennedy Smith stayed during her tenure as US ambassador to Ireland, until, in the late 1990s, it was sold to Lady Georgina Forbes, who used the spot as a private bolt-hole.
It was last sold in 2008, when there was much chatter about its reduction, from an original asking price of €2.1 million, down to €500,000. It later sold at auction for a sum believed to be in excess of €1 million, purportedly by a German national as a birthday present for his wife.
It took five years to renovate, not just because of its isolated location on an island off the Mayo coastline, but also because it’s a protected structure, meaning strict guidelines had to be followed.
It was completely gutted and Donegal native Roie McCann originally helped source appropriate furniture for the place “driving the length and breadth of the country”, before taking on the mantle and running the place as a high-end boutique Ireland’s Blue Book guest house, which she describes as being “at the end of the road but on top of the world”.
Besides the interior of the main lighthouse being refurbished – it today has three en suite bedrooms – five outhouses were also renovated and turned into further guest accommodation, which can cater for about 15 people in total.
One of these former outhouses is called the Banshee Suite. And no, it has nothing do with the film as it was given its moniker in 2011: “One day while walking towards the cottage I heard the wind whistling through the chimney pots and metal gates and it sounded like a banshee, so we gave it that name,” recalls McCann.
Interiors have a mixture of wood and flagstone flooring against all white backdrops allowing the striking vistas and location to take centre stage.
The island itself guards the entrance to Clew Bay and is accessible via a 20-minute ferry trip from Roonagh Pier on the mainland. The property also has its own helipad set on its 2.25 acres at the edge of Europe.
Historically, the island was home for a time to Grace O’Malley, Ireland’s legendary pirate queen whose castle, albeit in ruins, is still extant today while a 12th-century Cistercian abbey and Napoleonic tower show the importance of the island’s position over the centuries.
Its nearest airport, Knock, is about an hour and a half from the pier, which also has guest moorings should new owners wish to travel by private boat.
As you would expect, its location has lots of secluded beaches with hiking on the peaks of Knockmore and Knockaveen and water sports and fishing aplenty during summer months.
It has been launched to the market through joint agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Sherry FitzGerald Crowley in Westport, who can arrange viewings of this unique property, which is listed with an ambitious €4.8 million price tag.