John Lennon’s Irish island subject of new novel….

dorinish islandBy Donovan Day

I’m not sure how many Beatles’ fans know this–I didn’t–but back in 1967 John Lennon bought an island off the western coast of Ireland where he planned to retire and/or find a getaway from the world, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe.

The green glint in Lennon’s Irish eyes was tiny Dorinish Island which he owned from 1967 until he was assassinated in 1980. Yoko sold the island soon after and gave some of the proceeds to an Irish orphanage. That was likely the last even diehard Beatles’ fans heard of the island…until now.

Dorinish and Lennon’s love of the isolated island is a major plot point of the soon-to-be-released novel “Beatlebone” by Irish writer Kevin Barry. Barry says he got the idea for the book when he was bicycling around County Sligo and remembered that John once owned the island; the rest is pure creativity.

The novel has received raves from critics. It’s essentially Barry’s fictional story of Lennon trying to reach the island in 1978 to cure his writer’s block and to find sanctuary from the world.

Helping Lennon get to the island and avoid the press is a local Irishman who goes head to head with John, gets him drunk, drives him around the coast until the press leaves and he can row the ex-Beatle to Dorinish where he plans to stay alone for three days.

I’ve read an advance copy of the book which is written in a fantastical way, most of it a witty back and forth banter between Lennon and his wise Irish mate. Aside from Lennon, Dorninish plays a leading role.

Back in the late ’60s, Lennon himself turned the island over to Sid Rawle, a character who was known as “King of the Hippies.” He and his followers made a go of it for years but most of the so-called hippies left in 1972.

Locals still call it Beatle-island and it’s possible the name will be resurrected thanks to Barry’s book.

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