Islanders living on Arranmore sent this letter (above) to America and other countries seemingly begging them to come and boost the flagging population
Islanders living in isolation on a tiny outcrop off the Irish coast have told the extraordinary story of how they snubbed the British by sending a letter begging Americans to move there.
The people of Arranmore, which is just eight miles long and has 469 residents, were astounded to be inundated with inquiries from around the world when their letter went viral.
They seemingly invited millions of workers from the US, Japan and Australia to their shores to help boost its flagging population.
Extolling the virtues of living on the island, boasting that new arrivals would enjoy ‘the best diving in Ireland’ and ‘seafood to rival the tastiest New England clam chowder’.
The letter went on: ‘If you’re looking for a change of pace, why not come work here? Your commute, no matter where you are, will only ever be five minutes!’
But they upset their nearest neighbours Britain by appearing to miss them off the invite.
Now the island say that was simply ‘an oversight’ and have since welcoming them.
But they have admitted there is another big problem – Arranmore has no room for a sudden influx of people who were now chomping at the bit to make the move.
People living in isolation on the tiny outcrop of Arranmore (pictured) off the Irish coast have told the extraordinary story of how their letter begging newcomers to move there went viral
Appearing to give their closest neighbours short shrift by leaving the British off the list of ideal new recruits, they extolled the virtues of living on the island, boasting that new arrivals would enjoy ‘the best diving in Ireland’ and ‘seafood to rival the tastiest New England clam chowder’
Arranmore, off County Donegal on the northwestern coast of Ireland, is a rugged and picturesque place with miles of uninhabited hills and houses clustered mainly along the coast
With just one cottage for sale, six pubs, two shops, one post office and no hospital, there simply wasn’t the infrastructure to accommodate even a small a surge in population.
‘It’s been an absolute whirlwind,’ said Adrian Begley, one of the authors of the letter. ‘We can’t handle new arrivals and I’m sure that many of them couldn’t handle island life, especially in winter.
‘The visa requirements are complicated and you can’t just come and live here. We were never asking for immigrants, only visitors. The Americans got the wrong end of the stick.
‘Now anyone on Arranmore with an email address, even the local football club, is getting flooded with emails from Americans. It’s crazy.’
But there was just one problem with a move to boost the population – the island had no room for a sudden influx of people who were now chomping at the bit to make the move. Pictured: Marina Boyle owns and runs one of only two local shops on the island
With just one cottage for sale, six pubs, two shops, one post office and no hospital, there simply wasn’t the infrastructure to accommodate even a small a surge in population. Pictured: Thomas Boyle (right), owner of Phil Bans bar with his son Peadar (left)
Most families have lived on the island for many generations. The oldest resident, Danny O’Donnell (pictured with his wife Nellie), is 99 years old and has been there all his life
The island’s big problem is that although it’s home to 469 full-time residents, a further 650 islanders have been forced to leave to find work, causing the population to dwindle. Pictured: Arranmore’s youngest resident Roman Brady, one of just two babies still living on the island
Noirin Muldowney, who runs a B&B and owns the only property for sale on the island – a one-bedroom cottage with an asking price of €80,000 – said she had been ‘swamped’ with enquiries.
‘One Italian man asked to have it for free in return for working at my B&B,’ she said. ‘I’ve had emails from as far off as Dubai and I don’t know what to tell them.
‘Not only is there nowhere for them to live on the island, there’s no work here either.’
And what about upsetting the British? Mr Begley insisted that the islanders’ apparent lack of enthusiasm for approaching their neighbours across the Irish Sea was a mistake.
‘We made a list of target countries including Japan and Iceland, with America and Australia at the top,’ he said. ‘It was just an oversight not to include the UK.’
In an effort to make amends, they did eventually write an open letter to Britain.
Arranmore Island off the west coast of Donegal, Ireland, with a population of just over 400 residents is trying to get people to move back
Despite the letter seeming begging Americans, Australians, Japan, Iceland and many more to come over there just isn’t the infrastructure in place to deal with an influx of newcomers. Pictured: The only property for sale on the island is a one-bedroom cottage for sale at €80,000
Arranmore was once the centre of a thriving fishing industry, but it collapsed in the Eighties with over-fishing decimating stocks. Now six pubs, two shops and post office employ a handful of islanders, with others finding work in the local community centre, school, B&Bs and hotel
Mr Begley admitted that Americans thought they were being invited to come to live on the island due to a cock-up in the wording of the letter.
It was meant to appeal to US businesses to help boost the economy by giving islanders jobs – and visit the island to see what the place was like.
But phrases like, ‘if you’re looking for a change of pace, why not come work here?’ gave the impression that immigrants were wanted.
‘We never meant for them to move to Arranmore,’ Mr Begley insisted. ‘It’s not that they’re not welcome, but there just isn’t the infrastructure. We only meant for them to come visit.’
The island is trying to tempt people with the lure of recently added super fast broadband and a new work hub. MailOnline writer Jake Simons manages to get a 4G connection from the top of the island
The island was once the centre of a thriving fishing industry, but it collapsed in the Eighties when overfishing decimated stocks
The island’s big problem is that although it is home to 469 full-time residents, a further 650 islanders have been forced to leave with their families to find work, causing the population to dwindle.
The oldest resident, Danny O’Donnell, is 99 years old, while the youngest is six-months-old Roman Brady, one of just two babies on the island.
Most families have lived there for many generations, but there are a few relative newcomers and even a Polish couple.
The island was once the centre of a thriving fishing industry, but it collapsed in the Eighties when overfishing decimated stocks.
The six pubs, two shops and post office employ a handful of islanders, with others finding work in the local community centre, school, B&Bs and hotel.
Business booms during the high season but the tourism industry is limited. Over the last four decades, more and more islanders have been forced to find work overseas.
In years gone by families stayed on the island, but now at least 650 people have left the island to find work and earn enough money so that they can return home to Arranmore and retire
With only just under half of the population living on the island, it means that many homes are left empty and in some cases derelict for most of the year leaving it feeling like a ghost town
Business booms during the high season on Arranmore – but the tourism industry is limited. Over the last four decades, more and more islanders have been forced to find work overseas
As the years have past life on the island has largely remained the same as many locals have left in search of work – however now super-fast broadband has been installed there is hope on Arranmore that those who have left could return and work for big companies remotely
Men have gone off and work as expert tunnellers on excavation projects all over the world, including the London Underground.
It means half of properties on Arranmore lie empty or derelict most of the year, as their owners are working abroad to earn money to return when they retire.
But Mr Begley, a mental health specialist, and Seamus Bonner, 48, managed to get broadband installed on the island, in theory allowing islanders to work remotely.
Their idea was that US firms could employ people on the island using digital technology, encouraging Arranmore ex-pats to come back and breathe new life into the community.
The pair identified 20 families who would return if reliable broadband enabled them to continue with their careers.
They then wrote the open letter in the hope US companies would provide the jobs to allow them to move back.
Adrian Begley (left) and Seamus Bonner (right) admit that Americans thought they were being invited to live on the island due to a cock-up in the wording of their letter. What the letter was really trying to do was convince US firms to give islanders jobs to work for them remotely
‘It would only take three or four families to make a difference,’ Mr Bonner said. ‘That would be enough to make Arranmore feel vibrant again.’
He added: ‘Someone misinterpreted our letter and now the whole world and his wife wants to live here. All hell has broken loose.
‘We were trying to reach out to foreign companies to tell them that we are fully connected and open for business.
‘That was the message we were trying to get out there. We never expected so much confusion, but the silver lining is that Arranmore is now on the map.’