Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael

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The magnificent and ancient Skellig Islands, most recently seen all over the world in the Star Wars film Episode VII The Force Awakens and Episode VIII The Last Jedi, lies 12km off the coast of Portmagee in southwest Kerry. A trip to the Skelligs is a unique experience and is a sacred place to visit.

This will include a landing on Skellig Micheal(weather dependant) with a private guide, we will also explore the area around Valentia and Portmagee(time dependant)

Please contact us for further details, dates and costs.

 

Dates 2023 (TBD)

Rising majestically from the sea, the largest of the three islands, Skellig Michael towers 218m above sea level. On the summit of this awe-inspiring rock, you will find a remarkably well-preserved 6th Century monastic settlement. The earliest reference in history to the Skellig Islands dates back to 1400BC. During the time of the Penal Laws, Skellig Michael and Little Skellig became a haven for many Catholics. Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichil) was home to one of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland.

The monks of St Fionan’s monastery led simple lives and lived in stone, beehive-shaped huts. They descended the steps early every morning and fished for the morning’s breakfast. They spent most of the day praying in the church, tending to their gardens and studying. Their huts, which are round on the outside and rectangular on the inside, were carefully built so that no drop of rain ever entered between the stones. The monks left the island in the 13th Century and it became a place of pilgrimage.

There is a fantastic wealth of birdlife on and around the Skelligs, especially puffins in late spring. On the small Skellig 23,000 pairs of gannets nest on every available ledge, making it the second-largest gannet colony in the world.

Skellig Michael is a wilderness site and a designated Nature Reserve and access to the island, which is by boat only, is from May to October each year. A visit to the monastery will entail a climb of 618 steps, ascending over 180 metres.

The following advice must be noted at all times:

 

  • Visitors must stay on the recognised pathways at all times
  • Children must be supervised at all times
  • Beware of falling rocks
  • The steep gradient on the steps
  • Uneven steps
  • Steps slippery when wet

Landing on the Skelligs


Landing on Skellig Michael is very restricted and only licensed boats are permitted to land once per day during the season (mid-May to end of September). Landing is not permitted outside this period. The departure time for the tour is subject to change because of the sea conditions, and tides.

 

History of Skellig Michael

The earliest reference in history to the Skellig Islands dates back to 600AD. During the time of the Penal Laws, Skellig Michael and Little Skellig became a haven for many Catholics whose beliefs and rights were being suppressed. The largest of the Skelligs is Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichil) and was home to one of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland.

The monks of St. Fionan’s monastery led simple lives and lived in stone, beehive-shaped huts. They would descend the 670 steps early every morning and fish for the morning’s breakfast and would spend the rest of the day praying in the church, tending to their gardens and studying. The huts, which are round on the outside and rectangular on the inside, were carefully built so that no drop of rain ever entered between the stones.

The monks left the island in the thirteenth century and it became a place of pilgrimage.

Wildlife

Marine Wildlife

The waters surrounding the Skellig Islands are inhabited by an abundance of Marine Life.

Bluenose Dolphins, Basking Sharks and Grey Seals are regularly encountered on our boat trips to the Skellig Islands, and on rare occasions, Bluefin Tuna and even the majestic Humpback Whale make an appearance.

Birdlife

The Skellig Islands, an internationally renowned bird sanctuary, boast a wonderful array of birdlife.

Breeds such as the Guillemot, the Kitewake and the unmistakable Puffin call the Skellig Islands home during the summer months. This is especially true for the Gannet, as over 20,000 pairs migrate to Little Skellig between May and September every year, making it the second-largest Gannet sanctuary in the world.

Star Wars & Skellig Michael

The Skellig Michael scenes from the most recent Star Wars trilogy starting with Episode VII “The Force Awakens” were filmed at the islands in 2014. The Skelligs features prominently at the end of the movie where the audience is reintroduced to Star Wars’ original hero Luke Skywalker. Filming took place again in 2015 for the second instalment of the Star Wars trilogy Episode VIII “The Last Jedi” which was released in December 2017.

Safety Video


What to bring?

In Ireland, the weather is very unpredictable and we can get all the seasons in one day. Wear warm comfortable clothing and good walking shoes for climbing the steps to the monastery.

There are no shops or facilities on the island. If you suffer from motion sickness consider taking medication before the tour and avoid eating for a couple of hours beforehand.

  • Wear warm comfortable clothing
  • Good walking shoes – not flat soles
  • Packed lunch
  • Drinking water
  • Raingear – jacket and trousers
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
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