A Journey into Irish History, Legend, and Natural Beauty
Located off the southwestern coast of Ireland, amidst the restless waters of the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll discover the remote and enigmatic Skellig Islands. This rugged and uninhabited island cluster has held the fascination of travelers, historians, and adventurers for centuries. With its rich history, captivating legends, and breathtaking landscapes, the Skellig Islands promise an unforgettable experience. And what makes it even more appealing is that you can admire these wonders without venturing far, all thanks to the stunning Kerry Cliffs which is just a few minutes drive from Valentia Island!
A Glimpse into Skellig Michael’s History
Skellig Michael, commonly known as Skellig, forms one half of a twin-island complex, the other being Little Skellig. Unfortunately, Little Skellig remains inaccessible to the public as it serves as a protected bird sanctuary. However, Skellig Michael itself is open to adventurous souls willing to embark on the journey. Its history is as captivating as its remote location.
Early Monastic Settlement:
The island’s history dates back to the 6th century when Christian monks seeking solitude and spiritual connection established a monastic settlement on its steep, jagged cliffs. These monks, through sheer determination, built a series of beehive-shaped stone huts and other structures that still stand today, a testament to their remarkable architectural skills.
For centuries, Skellig Michael remained a place of prayer, learning, and hard work for the monks who inhabited it. The island’s isolation allowed them to flourish, and they lived there until the 12th century when they gradually abandoned the site, likely due to Viking raids and other threats.
UNESCO World Heritage Site:
In 1996, Skellig Michael gained recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, acknowledging its historical and cultural significance. This designation has since drawn even more attention to this remote gem.
Little Skellig: Ireland’s Majestic Seabird Sanctuary
While Skellig Michael often steals the spotlight with its ancient history and legends, its twin island, Little Skellig, is equally intriguing, albeit less accessible to visitors. Little Skellig serves as a vital sanctuary for seabirds and boasts its own unique history and natural wonders.
Little Skellig is a haven for seabirds, with countless colonies nesting on its cliffs. Gannets, puffins, kittiwakes, and razorbills are just a few of the species that call this rugged island home. These majestic birds create a cacophony of sounds and a stunning visual spectacle during the breeding season, making it a must-see for bird enthusiasts.
Island of Cliffs:
Little Skellig is dominated by towering cliffs that rise dramatically from the sea. These cliffs provide ideal nesting sites for the seabirds, as they offer protection from predators and the ever-changing weather conditions. The sight of thousands of birds perched precariously on the cliffs is a breathtaking and humbling experience.
While Little Skellig lacks the ancient monastic history of its sibling, it has its own historical importance. In the past, it was known as “The Great Skellig” due to its size and prominence. It served as a reference point for sailors and fishermen navigating the treacherous waters of the Atlantic.
Little Skellig’s significance as a seabird sanctuary has led to its protection. Access to the island is strictly limited to researchers and conservationists to minimize disturbance to the bird populations. This conservation effort has played a crucial role in preserving the island’s unique ecosystem.
Visiting Little Skellig is a rare opportunity, as it is primarily left undisturbed to protect its avian inhabitants. However, boat tours that circumnavigate the island provide a chance to witness the remarkable birdlife and the striking cliffs from a respectful distance.
Legends and Mysteries of Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael’s history is not the only thing that draws visitors. The island is steeped in legends and mysteries, adding an extra layer of intrigue to its allure.
The Seventh Son of the Seventh Son: One legend tells of a mystical prophecy associated with the island – it is said that the seventh son of a seventh son born on Skellig Michael will possess supernatural powers. This tale has sparked the imagination of many and adds an air of magic to the island.
Luke Skywalker’s Hideaway: Skellig Michael gained global recognition in recent years when it served as a filming location for the Star Wars franchise. The island doubled as the planet Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker sought refuge in “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi.” This connection has attracted Star Wars fans from around the world to experience the mystique of Skellig Michael.
Exploring the Portmagee Visitor Center
Before embarking on your journey to Skellig Michael (or if you want to experience the Skellig’s while remaining on dry land) be sure to make a visit to the The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre located on Valentia Island. This centre serves as an audio visual experience, restaurant and guide to the Skelligs.
Knowledgeable guides are available to answer questions and provide insights into Skellig Michael’s rich heritage. They can help you plan your trip and ensure you’re well-prepared for the adventure ahead.
The center also provides practical information, including details about boat tours, weather conditions, and safety guidelines. It’s a one-stop-shop to ensure your Skellig Michael experience is safe and enjoyable.
A Journey to Remember with Wild N Happy Travel
To make the most of your visit to Skellig Michael, consider joining the “Ring of Kerry” bus tour offered by Wild ‘n Happy Travel. This comprehensive tour not only takes you to Valentia Island but also explores the stunning landscapes of the Ring of Kerry.
Skellig Michael boat tour:
One of the highlights during the tour is the Skellig Michael Eco Boat Tour. Guests set out from Portmagee on this captivating journey to the awe-inspiring Skellig Michael. This eco-conscious boat tour lets visitors immerse themselves in the island’s history, marvel at vibrant seabird colonies, and absorb stunning natural beauty, all without stepping foot on the mainland.
Ring of Kerry Beauty:
As you travel along the Ring of Kerry, you’ll be treated to some of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring vistas. Rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, and picturesque villages await you at every turn.
Wild ‘n Happy Travel ensures that their tours are led by experienced guides who share their knowledge of the region’s history, culture, and natural beauty, enhancing your overall experience.
In summary, Skellig Michael is a destination where history, legend, and the wonders of nature converge, crafting a place that exudes mystery and captivation. Whether you’re drawn to its ancient monastic settlement or its modern-day claim to fame in the Star Wars franchise, Skellig Michael offers a timeless and imaginative journey that will leave an indelible mark on your memory. Seize the chance to discover this Irish treasure by joining Wild ‘n Happy Travel’s Ring of Kerry bus tour, and get ready to be spellbound by the enchantment of Skellig Michael.