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This couple beat 100,000 other applicants to be the new caretakers on the Great Blasket Islands


By Sarah Finnan
24th Jan 2022

@mountainlifeapparel

This couple beat 100,000 other applicants to be the new caretakers on the Great Blasket Islands

Dream jobs definitely do exist, at least for this couple who beat out over 100,000 other applicants to be named the new caretakers on the Great Blasket Islands.

Every year around this time, one of the world’s most sought-after jobs is listed online. Advertising a role for two as the new caretakers of the Great Blasket Island Accommodation and Coffee Shop, the unique position usually garners a huge amount of public interest… so much so that owners Billy O’Connor and Alice Hayes are inundated with thousands of emails from interested applicants. 

Living on a remote island might be a dream for many, but the job is anything but cushy and actually involves quite a bit of work. Successful candidates are expected to take up residence on the island for six months, during which they will be put in charge of a coffee shop and four different holiday cottages. Duties include meeting and greeting overnight guests, serving tea and coffee (naturally), and ensuring that all day-to-day operations run smoothly. 

The place is scarce on the luxuries too with no hot water or electricity. Things get hectic, especially during the summer months, and between crowds of tourists, temperamental weather and trying to prepare for just about every eventuality, there’s a lot to contend with. So, safe to say that those that sign up must be willing to deal with some fairly challenging conditions. 

As it turns out, many people are, including Brock Montgomery and his girlfriend Claire de Haas who have been hired as this year’s new caretakers. Refusing to give up on their hopes of getting the job, the couple applied for the position several times before finally landing the role on their third attempt. 

Originally from Moose Jaw, Canada, Brock is a well-known former professional ice hockey player who played for the Texas Stars in the National Hockey League and most recently with the German Tilburg Trappers. He met Claire – who is from Alkmaar in the Netherlands – four years ago and the two went to Bali for nine months to become certified yoga teachers. 

Now settled together over in Portugal, Claire said that they didn’t want to miss out on the chance of a new challenge and so decided to apply for the caretaker job once more. “We live an adventurous and simple life and are always looking for new experiences,” she told The Irish Examiner. “When this opportunity came by we immediately felt this was something for us.

“It’s a unique opportunity where we will be learning lots from a new culture and surroundings. We know it’s going to be hard work, but we like the challenge.”

Montgomery, who now owns the clothing brand Mountain Life Apparel, is currently studying meditation and mindfulness so he can soon start working with athletes and first responders. Obviously with a zest for travel, he said that he’d also like to start making short documentaries about his adventures and the people he meets along the way. 

Confident that they’re the right people for the job, Ms de Haas believes that they will bring a “fun energy” and “a positive vibe” to the island even though neither one has ever been to Ireland before. “(We are sure we will get) a lifetime memory, an experience we will never forget. Also, the experience of a different culture is going to be an asset.” 

Billy and Alice said that they did not advertise the positions this year given that they had gotten tens of thousands of previous applications – they received 40,000 in the first year of advertising alone. Located about th

Located approximately five km off the coast of Dingle, Co Kerry, O’Connor’s links to the place date back to when his grandfather and granduncle bought the island which eventually ended up in lengthy and costly legal battles in the High Court and Supreme Court against the State and Charles Haughey over ownership and use rights. There are currently no permanent residents on the island, which was deserted in the 1950s because emergency services were unable to reach it in stormy weather.

Billy and Alice have been carrying out essential works on the accommodation over the past few months, adding another bedroom to one of the cottages and upgrading other amenities. All going well, they’re hoping to open the island to visitors on April 1.

You can follow Brock and Claire’s adventure via their social media accounts – @clairedehaas, @brockmontgomeryy and @mountainlifeapparel.