Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Monach Mansion

On Ceann Iar of the Monach Islands there is a large, two-storey ruin made of the same red-bricks as the lighthouse on nearby Shillay. I've been unable to find much about it, other than it's usually described as a storehouse.

On my first visit to Ceann Iar, nearly 20 years ago, I did not have time to take a close look at the building. But during a visit in 2013 I had a lot of time on the island, and so I went over to see it. 

The building looked to be more than just a storehouse. Although the interior had collapsed, you could see that large fireplaces once warmed rooms on both the ground and first floor.

So in addition to being a storehouse, perhaps this once-grand building was an alternate accommodation for the keepers if they were stranded on Ceann Iar due to the weather. Or maybe it was a holiday-home of sorts if the keepers got tired of their quarters on tiny Shillay. If anyone knows please let me know.

The Monachs are one of my favourite island groups, mostly due to the vast number of seals that call them home. Here is the view I had while waiting to be picked up during that visit in 2013; over a hundred curious eyes wondering what I was up to (and wishing I'd leave so they could take back their beach). If you'd like to experience the Monachs consider joining us on the May 21st cruise.


  1. /Users/Gartsides/Desktop/Ceann Iar.png

    Hi Mark, Google Earth shows old lazy beds covering most of the island. The house seems to be at the wrong end of the island to serve as lighthouse accommodation, yet it is clearly imported brick, same as the lighthouse and at great expense. Maybe lighthouse staff family lived permanently in the house? A good mystery. Will be glad to know if you ever unravel it. Thanks for your posts - always enjoyable,

  2. Thanks David, I found this on the NLB website:

    "The island of Shillay, on which the Monach Lighthouse stands, was bought by the Commissioners from Sir John Orde and his son in 1862 together with a site measuring 0.0282 of an acre on adjoining island of Ceaniar on which a store house was erected. The cost of purchasing the island was £400."

    A 0.0282 acre site would be something like 1200 square feet, not much more than the foot-print of the building. There is the ruin of a much older house on the site (which you can see in the second photo), so it's probably why they picked that spot in the first place. Thanks for the comment.