Join me on a deserted island, anyone?
on 11/10/2013 00:00:00
"I expected to get a lot of women on the dole and free to commit for a year, but I've been surprised by the calibre of the applicants," he says. "They're well-heeled, very highly educated professional women - teachers, lawyers, doctors, people with masters and PhDs."
John's ad on Gumtree.ie last month prompted 3,600 responses, so sorting through them to find the genuine applicants took some time, but he said more than 100 women seemed serious about joining him on Inishfree.
Most fall within the 25-35 age group and the biggest number writing to him are from Dublin, but he has had replies from every county in Ireland, as well as Britain and the US, where his story caught the imagination of the Irish diaspora.
"The other very common theme I get reading through the applications is that there is a whole generation of Irish women who are completely disillusioned with social media and how it's affected modern-day life," says John.
"They're fed up with Twitter and Facebook and reality TV and with being expected to upload their lives on their iphones and say they want to experience a simpler, more private way of life."
That raises a difficulty for John's project, though, as he plans to write a book about the pair's experiences on Inishfree, so his companion needs to be someone who will be comfortable with a certain degree of publicity.
"I'm also getting the other extreme - people who are hungry to be famous. They just see it as a quick way to get into the newspapers and on to TV. That's not what I'm looking for either."
John, 36, who was born in London to Irish parents and lives in Carrick-on-Shannon, decided to embark on the idea when he became a victim of the recession and lost his job as hotel manager in Dublin earlier this year.
The last resident of Inishfree left the island in March this year and there are now about half a dozen habitable but empty homes there, one of which John is planning to make a temporary home for himself and his companion starting next January.