Life on an Irish island has its challenges but is also an “amazing experience”, two islanders have said.
1,300 families have applied to live rent free for a year in a house in Inis Meáin - which is one of the Aran Islands.
During the summertime the Aran Islands abound with tourists keen to sample island life and the Gaelic culture that flourishes there.
However, in the winter things are different; island life can be hard and sometimes locals are cut off from the mainland for days because of bad weather.
It means islands like Inis Meáin often struggle to attract young families and Comhlacht Forbartha Inis Meáin advertised the competition in order to boost the island’s school going population.
Two people who have some idea of what it is like to live on an Irish island are Claire de Haas and Brock Montgomery who have spent the summer working as caretakers on An Blascaod Mór in County Kerry.
The island was evacuated in 1953 but every summer tourists return to stay in a number of holiday cottages.
“It’s a lot more beautiful than we imagined - like pictures don’t do it really justice,” Brock told The Hard Shoulder.
“But saying that, the storms are very rough. It’s a very rugged life but those in themselves are amazing as well.
“The culture and the people, the whole experience has been really great. It’s definitely a challenge and it’s definitely not a job for everybody.
“But it’s been a challenge and also an amazing experience.”
Most Irish islanders have all the normal amenities of modern life - such as electricity, TV and an internet connection.
However, the cottages on An Blascaod Mór remain much as they were when the island was abandoned and Claire found life something of an adjustment:
“We had the fire going all the time and candles of course during the night - we definitely had to adjust a little bit,” she recalled.
“Those stormy, colder days had their own character here on the island and it’s really cool to experience that.”
Prospective islanders have until 10th August to email their application to firstname.lastname@example.org and to the lucky winners Brock has this piece of advice:
“I would just really enjoy it and take full advantage of where you are. It’s just special to be out there by yourself on an island like that,” he said.
“You have a lot of time; find things that will keep you busy and get a nice routine going I think really helps people as well.
“It takes time to adjust.”