Beatles legend John Lennon, who was deeply proud of his Irish heritage, planned to buy Dorinish Island, off Co Mayo, and might have spent his later years right there if tragedy had not struck.

"I hope we're a nice old couple living off the coast of Ireland, looking at our scrapbook of madness," Lennon said, not long before his death, of what he hoped his future would like with Yoko Ono.

Indeed, had Lennon not been killed by Mark Chapman in 1980, he could have gone through with plans to turn a remote Irish island off of Co Mayo into a hideaway retreat, according to his Irish lawyer.

Lennon bought Dorinish Island off the Mayo coast in 1967 and got planning permission from Mayo County Council to build a house there, but that permission later lapsed.

According to Lennon's lawyer Michael Browne, the world-famous musician was looking into renewing the permissions before he was shot and killed in December 1980.

Yoko Ono had no doubt they would have returned to their Irish island. 

"It 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," Ono has said.

"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."

After Lennon spotted an ad for Dorinish Island in 1967, he sent Alistair Taylor, manager of The Beatles, to purchase it, which he did at an auction for about £1,700.

Later, local man Paddy Quinn was hired to take Lennon to the island off the coast of Co Mayo.

"It was only afterward that I discovered it was John Lennon," Quinn told the Irish Independent in 2005.

"As far as I was concerned, he was a customer. Beatlemania and the Swinging Sixties had not quite reached the west of Ireland."

They spent an hour and a half surveying the 19 acres of Dorinish Island. 

Browne said: "He had a cine camera with him and was taking shots of the scenery all around the area. He was very impressed with Clew Bay.

"I found him very practical and business-like. He was completely in command of himself, and interested in the logistics and the cost of building a house out on the island. He was worried about further erosion on the island. He was concerned that something should be done to prevent it."

In 1970, he handed the island over to a commune of hippies, who made it their summer camp.

In 1980, just before he died, Lennon made inquiries again about the island and was in the process of making plans to visit again. Then came Mark Chapman and that dreadful night on December 8, 1980.

Dorinish Island was sold in 1984 to a local farmer named Michael Gavin, who still grazes sheep there.

After she sold the island, Yoko gave $50,000 of the proceeds to a local Irish orphanage.

Here is some incredible aerial footage of Dorinish Island, off the coast of Co Mayo:

* Originally published in Oct 2010. Updated in November 2023.