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Blasket Island caretaker job up for grabs

Blasket Island caretaker job up for grabs

A job opportunity on one of the country’s most famous islands has arisen once again.

Every year, the Great Blasket Island in Co Kerry requires two caretakers to help maintain the region during the busy summer period.

The island, once home to the storyteller Peig Sayers, has no hot running water or electricity, but this has not stopped thousands of people applying for the role of caretaker each year.

Billy O’Connor and Alice Hayes maintain the four holiday cottages on the island as well as the coffee shop.

The couple received a “phenomenal amount of emails” over the last few years from people looking to take the role, meaning they have had to introduce a cut-off point for applications, while couples are preferred due to the two caretakers sharing the main bedroom above the coffee shop.

The main role of the successful applicants will see them manage the shop and the cottages as well as ensuring the day-to-day running of the island is being met.

The job advertisement reads: “We are looking for hardworking, responsible and trustworthy duo that have great people skills and initiative.

“Please be aware this is not a holiday job. The season can get VERY busy and you will be on your feet for most of the day.

“This is an intense position and caretakers must acknowledge that they are on an island with very few resources.”

A general day on the island as a caretaker would include:

  • Ensuring coffee shop is prepared and set up for opening and bathrooms are clean;
  • Guests check out at 10am. Once checked out, caretakers must proceed with full cleaning of the houses and get them ready for new arrivals. This should take approximately three hours;
  • The coffee shop opens at 1pm, with caretakers serving teas and coffee to day visitors throughout the day;
  • Clean, stock, and set up coffee shop ready for next day.
Waves crash over Clogherhead in West Kerry as An Fear Marbh, part of the Blasket Islands, withstands the onslaught of Storm Jorge on Sunday.  Picture: Don McMonagle
Waves crash over Clogherhead in West Kerry as An Fear Marbh, part of the Blasket Islands, withstands the onslaught of Storm Jorge on Sunday. Picture: Don McMonagle

Staff sleep above the coffee shop and share the main and use the coffee shop kitchen and toilets as their own.

There is a stove which can be lit in the evening, any laundry will be collected and washed on the mainland and food shops will be delivered daily. During the busier months — June, July, and August — the island gets one or two volunteer helpers who will sleep in the second upstairs bedroom.

The ad notes that the selected duo must cover all their travel expenses/accommodation expenses until they board the boat to the island.

The role is from April 1 to October 1, while all food and board is included in the position on top of a wage.

2022 caretakers

Last year Brock Montgomery and Claire de Haas served as the island’s caretakers, learning to live by candlelight at night, relying on fires for heating, and a very small windmill to charge their phones

Speaking to the Irish Examiner about their time on the island, Brock — a Canadian former ice-hockey star, who celebrated turning 30 on the island — said: “The island has taught me to be in the moment a little bit more.

“Living on the island kind of forces you to relax.”

Claire, 27, said: “The island forces you not to think too much about what’s going to happen or worry about the future.

Brock Montgomery and Claire de Haas with their dog Lenny.  Picture: Noel Sweeney
Brock Montgomery and Claire de Haas with their dog Lenny. Picture: Noel Sweeney

“It forces you to just be in that moment and just enjoy the sounds of the seals and the sea and some birds flying by.

“When we arrived back in Dingle, we had gone from somewhere that was so quiet to hearing cars again.

“It was strange. It may not have actually been busy when we arrived, but for us — it was like there was just so much going on again.”

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