For most couples in their 20s living on an uninhabited island with no electricity would be hell.
But for Lesley Kehoe and Gordon Bond, it’s been a slice of heaven.
Tired of the rat race in Dublin and spending four hours commuting from Kildare to the city every day, they upped sticks and moved to An Blascaod Mor off the coast of Co Kerry.
Lesley told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I have always been interested in the Great Blasket Islands – I wrote my thesis about their heritage.
“As part of my research Gordon and I went out there and we stayed in one of the cottages.
“We just fell in love with the place and in January I saw a Facebook post advertising a job looking after the hostel there.
“I had been working in the heritage sector at a Seamus Heaney exhibition and Gordon was in the civil service at the time.
“I loved my work but we both wanted a bit of a change and a break from our routine so we decided to go for it and 10 days later we got the job.”
Lesley, 27, and 29-year-old Gordon had to adapt to life on the island, which was abandoned in 1954 due to population decline.
It has no electricity, their water comes from a spring and they have to rely on gas to cook their food. Lesley said: “There’s a wind turbine which powers a socket so we have one socket for the whole place – it wouldn’t be powerful enough to run a hoover or anything but it can charge my phone.
“I can take bookings for the hostel on that and send in our shopping lists – we couldn’t do without it.
“I still walk into a room sometimes and think, ‘It’s very dark in here’ and go to turn on the light, then remember I can’t.
“The lack of electricity hasn’t actually bothered me that much but it did take me a while to get used to not having hot water.
“I said I was going to heat up water every day, that I’d never have a cold shower – but to be honest you’d be upstairs and dressed by the time you’d have the water heated in the kettle so I just decided to brave it.”
Part of the reason the island had to be evacuated in the 50s was emergency services were unable to reach it in bad weather.
So is being cut off from the mainland something that worries Lesley? She said: “You just have to be prepared and hope that nothing goes wrong.
“Sometimes we are cut off from the mainland for three or four days.
“We just have to be mindful of that and not take any chances, we take it easy when we’re lifting chairs and tables in the house and things like that.”
The couple are the only full-time residents on the island but they say it never gets lonely.
Lesley said: “We can have up to 31 people in the accommodation, boats come out from Dingle, Bantry and Dunquin.
“Then if the weather is bad it’s just us but that’s actually our favourite time. All you can hear is the beach and the waves. That’s when we really get to appreciate the island and landscape and what the islanders would have went through when they were living here.”
But is there anything they miss about life on the mainland?
Lesley said: “I miss my family obviously but they’ve all come out to visit.
“Other than that I really miss my dog, she’s old so we couldn’t bring her with us. I don’t really get any cravings apart from ice cream on a hot day.”
The couple’s time on the island will come to a close in October and Lesley said they will be “heartbroken” to leave, adding: “I don’t think either of us are ready to leave the island, it’s become a huge part of our lives and it’s definitely changed us. I think living here has shown us what works for us and what doesn’t and this pace of life definitely suits us.
“I don’t see us going back to work in Dublin any time soon.”
- For more information on visiting the Blasket Islands visit www. greatblasketisland.net.
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