Beatles legend’s private island taken over by hippies before disaster saw it dubbed ‘heaven & hell’

BEATLES legend John Lennon planned to live out his retirement on an Irish island – until disaster struck.

This is Dorninish, a 19-acre island off the coast of Ireland, that was both John Lennon’s dream, and a colony for New Age hippies.


John Lennon planned to move to an Irish island with his wife Yoko OnoCredit: Rex
The 19 acre island was described as the rockstar's dream place to retire


The 19 acre island was described as the rockstar’s dream place to retireCredit: Youtube/@Shay Fennelly


“I hope we’re a nice old couple living off the coast of Ireland, looking at our scrapbook of madness,” Lennon one said, about his future with Yoko Ono.

Had Lennon not been killed in 1980, the legend would have gone through with his plans to turn Dorinish Island into his retirement retreat, according to his lawyer Michael Browne.

Other sources have said that Lennon was absolutely infatuated with the island, but that he wasn’t ready to settle into island living and had wanted to wait until his career had slowed.

So he offered it out, free of charge, to the “King of the Hippies”.

This was Sid Rawle, the founder of the Digger Action Movement.

Rawle was a New Ager, with an utopian vision of self sufficiency and communal living. He arrived on Dorninish with little more than his grand plans for raising livestock and growing vegetables.

His army of 30 hippies planned to set up a tribal community, where others could come to try an alternative way of living.

But he and his hippy followers horrified local residents, a retired farmer from neighbouring Westport told the Observer.

John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial Trailer

Sam Kelly, 63, said: “You saw them waiting to go out, and some of then were back pretty quick, too.

“It didn’t suit too many of the rich, pampered kids.

“In town we just all thought the man must be making a lot of money out of it all, but then thought, fair game to him when he made it through that first winter.”

It took until the winter of 1972, when a fierce County Mayo wind caused an oil lamp to destroy the hippies’ teepees, for the group to disband.

Within a handful of years, Rawle had established another tent commune near Llandeilo in Wales, and continued to live out his utopian dreams.

Rawle would later refer to Dorninish as “it was heaven and it was hell”.

In 1980, Lennon had started inquiring about the island again.

According to his lawyer, he had even started looking into renewing his building permissions – before he was shot and killed on December 8, 1980.

Yoko Ono also maintains that the pair would have moved there had it not been for the tragic disaster.

She said: “It was a place where we thought we could escape the pressures and spend some undisturbed time together. But because of what happened our hopes never came to be.

“We often discussed the idea of building a cottage there. It was so beautiful, so tranquil, yet so isolated, it seemed a perfect place to get away from it all.”

Yoko Ono eventually sold Dorinish Island to Michael Gavin, a local farmer, in 1984.

A new documentary series has raised questions about whether Lennon’s killer, Mark Chapman, was controlled by the FBI.

In the three-part Apple TV+ series, Lennon’s friend reveals that the singer’s widow had asked him to look into a possible conspiracy.

He discovered that the US secret services had followed and bugged the peace-campaigning couple because of their radical ideas.

Confidential documents reveal that the FBI considered them “dangerous” and that President Richard Nixon wanted their activities stopped.

Tens of New Age hippies lived on Dorinish island in the early 70s


Tens of New Age hippies lived on Dorinish island in the early 70sCredit: Wikipedia/@Fionahallinan
The island was later described as "heaven and hell" due to the brutal winters


The island was later described as “heaven and hell” due to the brutal wintersCredit: Youtube/@Shay Fennelly
The rockstar was looking into building permissions just before he was shot


The rockstar was looking into building permissions just before he was shotCredit: Getty
The island has now been sold to a local farmer, Michael Gavin


The island has now been sold to a local farmer, Michael GavinCredit: RTE

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