BORN in Kent but happiest in Beara, Ian Morley, a retired accountant, is offering three couples the chance to each farm an acre of his land at Cahermore.
Ian told The Southern Star: ‘I lived there – between Castletownbere and Allihies – from 1983 up to about five years ago, but relocated to Skibbereen because I fell in love.
‘I met this lovely Flemish lady, Agnes, on the internet. We are real soul mates. We couldn’t live in both places so I came to live in Skibbereen. At the age of 76, it is probably better to live closer to the town.
‘But that left me with the dilemma of what to do with my property. You can’t leave it unlived in, because it deteriorates very quickly.
‘A young girl from Yorkshire – a fiery redhead – did an impressive job in managing the holding for a while, but she too has fallen in love and married the farmer next door.
‘It means I now have to find three reliable couples who want to farm organically on the land. But they’d have to decide between them how they are going to share the house.
‘The idea is that they can have it – the land and the house – rent-free. I don’t want any money. But they’d have to put an equivalent amount of time and a little bit of money into the infrastructure – such as sheds etc – which is for their benefit.’
Ian said he has already had hundreds of responses from America, Finland, Germany, France, Zimbabwe and, of course, the UK and Ireland.
‘Now I have the difficult task of evaluating the applications. Obviously, people with a bit of experience would top the list. One of the couples, clearly, would need to have transport.
‘I’d very much be attracted to someone who would like to run a herb farm because I like herbs. And I’d be very attracted to someone who wanted to be a beekeeper.
‘I’m still accepting applications because I want to get it right. Applicants can contact me by email on: [email protected] and I’ll send them my mission statement, which outlines my philosophy pretty clearly.
‘There may be issues regarding planning permission, but the fact that there is a house on the land is a very strong positive. But it might be possible for each of the three to erect something akin to a Russian Dacha. Ian says the reason he is doing this is because he wants to attract young people – ‘like the fiery redhead’ – to rural Ireland. ‘I see rural Ireland declining and it saddens me.
‘There are so many people who want to live like this but can’t – and sometimes it simply comes down to the restrictions of the country’s planning laws.’
Ian has also had the rather bright idea of turning this project – “The Beara Project” – into a documentary. So filmmakers out there, take note and send in your CVs.