THERE’S yet another addition to the already extensive list of reasons to visit Whiddy Island in Bantry Bay as the doors open at the newly renovated Old School House Hostel.
Whiddy’s ferryman, postman, farmer and only publican, Tim O’Leary of the Bankhouse bar and restaurant, has lovingly renovated the island’s old school house creating a multi-use hostel capable of providing accommodation for up to 34 people.
‘This has been a six-year project to turn what used to be the only school on the island into a bed and self-service hostel,’ Tim told The Southern Star.
‘We’ve designed the hostel with families and groups in mind and while we have bedrooms and kitchen facilities, the Old School House can also be used as a space for meetings, team building events and a range of other activities for visitors to Whiddy Island.’
While Tim admits the timing for the opening of the hostel could not have been worse he is confident that when the current Covid crisis is behind us the Old School House will be a popular choice for those wishing to stay on the island.
‘The building was in major disrepair when we saw the potential to provide accommodation for visitors,’ Tim said.
‘And thanks to the support of FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group) that helped us renovate the original school house and to Leader for supporting us in building the accommodation.’
The Old School House was built back in 1887 and as the population of the island decreased closed, for the first time, in 1947.
‘The school opened again in 1955 and was finally closed in 1993 when all that remained was one teacher and one pupil.’
However, this new lease of life for the 133 year-old building provides two room for couples, four rooms that are perfect for families of four and two rooms, with seven beds each, that are ideal for groups.
‘I know we are all living through tough times at the moment but it’s not going to least forever and when the restrictions are lifted and we can get back to something close to normal the Old School House will be here on Whiddy to welcome visitor both old and new,’ Tim said.