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Double Take: The uninhabited Mayo island once owned by John Lennon

Just Imagine buying your own island.

Image: Mal B/Flickr

OFF THE COAST of Mayo in Clew Bay, among some 365 islands of varying sizes, is Dorinish Island – or, as it’s better known, ‘Beatle Island’. 

How it got its nickname is no surprise: Dorinish Island was bought by The Beatles frontman John Lennon in 1967.

Lennon bought the island for £1,700, reports, and planned to spend his retirement there. Spanning 19 acres, Lennon received planning permission to build a house on the island, but never did.

Speaking to The Guardian, local estate agent Andrew Crowley said the Liverpudlian was “besotted with the place by all accounts”.

d1 Source: Google Maps

Crowley also told RTE about how the singer ended up buying an island off the west coast of Ireland: “John Lennon saw a newspaper ad for the an island for sale off Ireland, this was Dorinish Island which was being sold by Westport Harbour Board. The island was used by the Board in the 1800s to house marine pilots who guided sailing ships in to Westport harbour.”

Lennon is said to have arranged for a wooden caravan painted in psychedelic colours to be shipped from London to the island to act as a temporary home.

As his career progressed, Lennon postponed his moving to the small island and offered it to Sid Rawle, the founder of the Digger Action Movement and known as ‘King of the Hippies’, reports The Guardian. Rawle and 30 others lived there until 1972 when a dropped oil lamp destroyed their tents, and therefore their homes.

d2 Source: Google Maps

Despite receiving planning permission to build a house there, Lennon postponed the plans to build after the collapse of his first marriage to Cynthia Powell and permission ended in 1972, said Crowley. 

He returned to the island just once more with his wife Yoko Ono before his death in 1980, and he is said to have been looking into renewing the permission and was planning to return to the island. 

According to, Ono said Dorinish Island “was a place where we thought we could escape the pressures and spend some undisturbed time together. But because of what happened our hopes never came to be.”

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“We often discussed the idea of building a cottage there. It was so beautiful, so tranquil, yet so isolated, it seemed a perfect place to get away from it all.”

Ono sold the island for £30,000 in 1984, and it is widely reported that she donated the proceeds of the sale to an Irish orphanage. 

The island went on the market again in 2012 for €300,000. There’s little information about whether it has been sold, so you’ll have to do some digging if you fancy treating yourself to a lavish purchase.

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