Couple avoid entire pandemic after moving to remote island with no neighbours

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A British couple dodged the coronavirus pandemic by moving to a tiny island with no neighbours.

Luke and Sarah Flanagan live on remote Owey Island, off the west coast of County Donegal in Ireland, with no electricity, gas or running water.

They moved to the 300-acre island from the Scottish Highlands on March 14 last year, just days before the UK went into lockdown.

But they had no idea about the impending crisis and say the purpose of their stay was to enjoy a slower pace of life for 12 months.

Luke, 34, and Sarah, 36, have spent the time walking their two Staffies, fishing and tending to homegrown crops while keeping themselves clear of Covid-19.

Luke, a joiner by trade, said: "It's been really weird and strange hearing about everything that's happening while being isolated on this little island.

"As you can imagine, we haven't had to worry about social distancing.

"The experience as a whole has been incredible. The pace of life is so slow but it's lovely, we spend our days out walking with the dogs, growing our own food and learning new skills.

"It's not for everyone but we have loved it."

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Owey Island has a handful of properties with no schools or shops and only two narrow roads.

The couple, originally from Leeds, West Yorkshire, live in a small cottage using coal fires to keep warm, a tank to collect rainwater and water from a well.

They raise hens for eggs, fish in the sea, use gas bottles to cook and have solar panels to charge their electrical items.

Luke said he started as a "rubbish" fisherman but can now catch pollock, which he salts so it can be stored for months.

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Their only way off is by dinghy to another island three-quarters of a mile away, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

While there are some houses they are only inhabited in the summer and the last time anyone spent the winter there was 1974.

The couple moved after spotting an online advert offering the opportunity to become the tenants of a small cottage.

They decided the chance was too good to pass up so decided to take a year off from work.

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Luke said the homeowner wanted to prove it's possible to spend an entire winter season there to encourage others to do the same in the future.

Other residents started arriving as summer approached and taught them how to survive.

Luke added: "But as soon as autumn started coming in everyone left and we were left on our own, luckily we were well prepared to cope thanks to the help of other people."

They get a good signal on their phones thanks to nearby shipping lanes.

Social worker Sarah said: "My overall thoughts about our time on the island are how incredibly lucky we are to be here.

"We have both learned so much and had experiences I would never have even imagined."

  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown
  • Family

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