Luxury Guided Tours of Ireland 2018 - Book before the end of September 2017 to receive an Early Bird Discount of €250 per person.

SKELLIG MICHAEL

Skellig Michael introduction

Skellig Michael is all about location, location, location, isn’t it? The monks chose it as the furthest point they could get from civilization at the time, to be close to God. Unesco chose it as an area in need of special protection given its fragile eco system as a nesting ground for countless puffins and gannets as well as its archaeological importance. And the first time I ever laid eyes on the Skelligs from the mainland as a child, it looked to me like something straight out of Disney. Little did I know they would soon come a knocking with Hollywood choosing it as a dramatic setting for the final scene of the last Star Wars movie. The jury is still out on whether that was good or bad or a bad thing?

The old path up to the top of Skellig Michael, County Kerry.The old path up to the top of Skellig Michael, County Kerry.

Getting there

But whatever your reason or interest in visiting Skellig Michael, there is no denying that it is a place of outstanding natural beauty, with its dramatic jagged appearance, away out in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of County Kerry. Lashed mercilessly by winter storms and gales, the monks still made it there home, literally carving out an existence for themselves. You can see the three ways to the top, where the monastery is situated, with rough steps hewn out of the rocks at sea level providing a stairway to heaven....

Monastery and beehive huts, Skellig Michael, County Kerry.Monastery and beehive huts, Skellig Michael, County Kerry.

Skellig Michael is an unforgiving place and very difficult to get to so think twice before you put it on your Bucket List of Things to Do and See in Ireland. For starters it is 8 miles out into the Atlantic and there are only 12 boats licensed to take 12 passenger each day, weather permitting from April / May to September/ October. So the 144 places are inevitably booked up months, sometimes even years in advance and even then there is no guarantee that you will actually be able to land especially if there is a large swell running....

Practicalities

Monks graves, Skellig Michael, County KerryMonks graves, Skellig Michael, County Kerry

Also please bear in mind that you there are 600 steps up to the summit where the monastery and beehive huts are situated, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend it you are unfit or haven’t a head for heights as you will just be miserable. Although some people misery apparently extends to whining about the lack of wifi on the Skelligs? Yep, I kid you not in this holy of holy remote places some people’s main priority is still updating their facebook status! Please note there are is no shop or bathroom facilities either so please remember to bring water, a packed lunch or snack and dress warmly in layers.

Puffin, Skellig Michael, County KerryPuffin, Skellig Michael, County Kerry

conclusion

Which leads me to think that the Skellig Michael should be abandoned as a tourist destination, there is plenty of availability on cruises out and around the islands, from which you can see the monastery and the beehive huts. I don’t think there is any real need to actually go up there and tramp around them or try and recreate your own version of that Star War’s scene complete with light sabers etc. What, with the lack lustre interest of the OPW rangers and guides at the site, I found it difficult to get any sense of the sacredness of the place and found it a huge disappointing. There are much better unspoiled places equally as good ,that you can have pretty much to yourself, without having to dodge neon anoraks and selfie maniacs!

Portmagee Harbour, County KerryPortmagee Harbour, County Kerry

And I know, that's easy for me to say having actually been there. If you do want to go, I would only recommend one company, the Skelligs Rock for you trip. Seanie is the owner and David is the skipper, who takes exceptional care of his passengers, as they are the only boat operators who will actually answer a phone call or email promptly and courteously. 

To book a boat trip with a reliable operator please click on the following link for Skelligs Rock.

Irelands Hidden Gems