Wanted: Innkeeper on volcanic outcrop surrounded by puffins

Islanders have been busy refurbishing the inn for its new chatelaine
Islanders have been busy refurbishing the inn for its new chatelaine

WANTED: A hospitable person looking for a drastic change of scenery to run a 12-bedroom inn on a tiny volcanic island. Must like puffins.

Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland's "only inhabited offshore island", is preparing to open it's newly-refurbished guest house, which it hopes will become the anchor of a new tourism surge.

All it needs now is an innkeeper - who could be you.

An advertisement has been placed in `The Caterer' magazine inviting expressions of interest for an operator for the eighteenth century Manor House.

Islanders have acquired the property from the National Trust for a peppercorn rent on a 20 year lease and have been busy refurbishing it.

Freshly painted and gleaming like a pearl on the 2.4 by 4 mile island, the Rathlin Development & Community Association are seeking an operator who will oversee the grand re-opening and running of the inn, which comes with a licensed restaurant that promises fabulous, locally-sourced food.

Future chatelaines have been promised the `opportunity of a lifetime" in taking on "a delightful heritage building in a unique island setting".

They are seeking someone "confidence, charisma and energy" and an "entrepreneurial spirit".

Whoever it is, they will join Rathlin's "steadily growing population of around 140", swollen by increasing numbers of visitors - drawn by its renowned scenery - and "hundreds of thousands of puffins".

While a modernised transport and communications infrastructure has edged the island into the twenty-first century, locals insist it "retains its old fashioned sense of community".

The inn would be open year-round, although, likely to be busiest in the summer.

Rathlin Island is six miles north of Ballycastle reached by regular ferry - unless particularly bad weather stops the service.

Michael Cecil, Rathlin Development & Community Association chairman, said it is an "exciting opportunity to become part of a thriving community" and "would suit a management couple or individual looking for a new challenge, or indeed an operator with a small to medium chain of hotels and guest inns, looking to expand their portfolio".

"A family with kids would do well because there's a primary school here and the numbers have been going up in recent years."

Mr Cecil said islanders are keen to see their numbers grow, having "almost doubled in the last 10 to 15 years".

"Between 220 and 230 people would be ideal for the island," he added.

If you're up to the challenge, contact by Friday March 4.