The sparsely populated Dongeal island of Inishfree where McManus proposes to live for a yearFreepages

Irishman John McManus has put out an ad for a “companion/wife” to spend twelve months with him on the relatively deserted island of Inishfree off the Donegal coast. His ad on the Gumtree website has already returned lots of replies.

McManus, who is an unemployed hotel manager, got the idea from the book and movie "Castaway," which is based on the experiences of writer Gerald Kingsland who spent 1981 on an island with Lucy Irvine who answered a similar ad. McManus plans to write a book about his experiences.

He’s had the idea for a while, but Ireland’s current economic downturn set up the circumstances for him to fulfill it. He told the Irish Examiner, “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and when Barry Pilcher, the last remaining resident of Inishfree, left in March, I thought ‘there’s the perfect opportunity.’”

He is open minded about applicants’ age, looks and background and only requests that they are not crazy. He told the Irish Examiner, “I’m looking for someone with a sense of adventure, a great sense of humour, and who is definitely not crazy. The island was already home to the Screamers sect in the past so we don’t want a repeat of that.” McManus plans to compile a shortlist from the applicants to interview.

McManus plans to live in one of the empty cottages on the island, plant his own vegetables,  forage for fuel, avoid the internet, and rely on the mainland shops as little as possible. Following this lifestyle will be new to him. McManus said, “I’ve never done any backpacking or lived in tents so it will be interesting to see how I deal with living a very basic life and the isolation. Relationship dynamics will be very interesting.” He added, “If there is a love interest, that would be great, but we’ll see what happens.”

His social experiment is not all about finding companionship. McManus also wants to show the importance of islands. He said, “It’s such a shame to see islands declining and really my only other option since I lost my job in January was to emigrate like everyone else. I just think this will be a very interesting social experiment and a way to highlight the importance of the islands as well.”

If interested, potential companions should send in their applications asap as McManus plans to leave for the island in January.