Skellig Michael in Ireland has been a little known and somewhat obscure tourist destination for many years but that will all change when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theatres later this month. Irish tourism is about to explode when Star Wars devotees faithfully follow to see this natural and sacred wonder up close and personal.
Also known as Great Skellig, this unique rocky island sits in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, eight miles off Kerry County. “Skellig” is derived from the Gaelish word “sceillic” which means steep rock…and rightfully so as its peak extends 714 feet high! Accompanied by a smaller companion known as Little Skellig, the two scenic masses of exposed rock make up the Skellig Islands. For anyone wanting to catch a glimpse of the Skellig Islands, they are visible from the Ring of Kerry on a clear day.
While Little Skellig is not open to the public, Great Skellig is and for anyone wanting to touch down on the island, they could venture out in a boat. It should be known, however, that the boats will only go out on relatively clear days and since Ireland weather is often cloudy, there’s always a possibility that the boats won’t run. Also, there are no restaurants or restrooms on Skellig Michael so eat and use the facilities prior to departure.
In the 7th century, a group of Christian monks lived on Skellig Michael as they believed it would bring them closer to God. In spite of the treacherous weather conditions of rain and wind, the monks built a monastery on Great Skellig that stands today. The steep trek up to the monastery consists of 618 steps embedded into the rock. (There is no handrail so if you’re serious about visiting Skellig Michael, you might want to consider bringing some trekking poles!). The monks lived in beehive shaped stone huts and lived off seabirds, fish and vegetables grown in the monastery’s garden.
Today Skellig Michael is internationally known in the world of ornithology and among twitchers (bird watchers) due to its diversity of bird species. Some birds that inhabit the Skellig Islands are The Puffin, The Gannet, The Fulmar, The Arctic Tern and The Cormorant. Skellig Michael is hailed as one of Ireland’s most diverse bird sanctuaries.
Whether its to align yourself with “the force”, seabirds galore or to simply witness a sacred and beautiful place of serenity, consider adding Skellig Michael to your bucket list. Authentic Ireland provides a number of self-drive tours that venture out to the Ring of Kerry where on a cloud-free day you can see the Skellig Islands. All of our Ireland vacations are customizable and if you have a vision of what the ideal itinerary should include, give us a call and we can set it up for you with our hundreds of partners. With offices in Dublin and the US, our travel specialists are not only experts in Ireland, they’re passionate about it.