Our Living Islands is an initiative that aims to revitalize the Irish islands by restoring their dwindling populations and adding a host of other quality-of-life improvements.
The Irish government is looking to boost the population of more than two dozen scenic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and they’re offering potential homebuyers a strong incentive to pack up and move: a grant of up to $92,000.
Dubbed “Our Living Islands,” the program will go into effect July 1.
According to plans released by the Irish Department of Rural and Community Development earlier this month, although many of these islands — including Inis Mór, a filming location for the Oscar-nominated film The Banshees of Inisherin — are huge draws for tourists due to their landscapes and history, the population of year-round residents is rapidly dwindling.
Across roughly 30 islands off the Irish coast, there are only around 3,000 people who live on them throughout the year. Some of the islands have as few as two permanent residents, yet each year more than 300,000 tourists visit the Irish islands.
Through Our Living Islands, the Irish government hopes to revitalize these remote islands, most of which are cut off by the daily tide and lack a bridge or connection to the mainland.
“Good transport services and a developed infrastructure are important prerequisites for maintaining island populations,” the plan noted. “The Department’s aim is to seek to meet these requirements through current and capital investment via the Department itself and through other relevant Departments and organizations.”
The program is a 10-year national policy aiming to bolster economies and quality of life for communities on the islands, both for the benefit of the islands’ population and the tourists who visit them each year.
“The aim of this policy is to ensure that sustainable, vibrant communities can continue to live — and thrive — on the offshore islands for many years to come,” the government wrote.
The Irish government outlined five overarching strategic objectives: revitalize population levels on the islands; diversify island economies; enhance health and wellbeing services on the islands; empower island communities; and build smart, sustainable futures for those living on the islands.
Specifically, the Irish government hopes to use its grant funding to encourage more people to move to the islands; equip homes, schools, and digital hubs on the islands with high-speed internet for remote work and schooling; and establish eHealth Pods throughout the islands to give residents additional access to online health appointments.
There are a few conditions, however. As CBS reports, Our Living Islands is an expansion of sorts to the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, which offered grants of up to $55,000 for people willing to buy vacant, derelict properties on the islands and renovate or refurbish them.
In order to qualify for the “Our Living Islands” grant, you must first own or be in the process of buying property on one of the islands that has been vacant for at least two years.
To make the process a bit easier, Insider reports, Vacant Home Officers will work to identify empty and derelict properties on the islands. The grant money can only be used for redecorating, installations, and structural improvements to the home.
There are no restrictions on who can buy property in Ireland, so Americans are welcome to apply for the grant and purchase property, though it should be noted that owning property on the islands does not guarantee a right to live in Ireland.
That complicates matters a bit for any Americans looking to apply for the $92,000 refurbishment grant, though there are a number of ways in which foreigners can apply for Irish residency, such as work permits. Those looking to start a business in Ireland can also qualify for residency.
If you’re interested in applying, all you have to do is fill out an application form and send it to your local city or county council for approval. Specific information is also required, including proof of ownership of the property and verification that it has been vacant for at least two years.
Before you pack up and move to the Irish islands, learn a bit about the country’s history. Find out what the Blarney Stone is and why people kiss it. Or, read about Newgrange, the ancient Irish tomb that’s older than the pyramids.