Skellig Michael (Europe Adventure)

May 27, 2016 by kimeree13

Honestly, I have put off writing this post for a while because what I am about to describe was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find the right words to do it justice. I am going to do my best, and if anything, the photos I took will give you a least a hint of why Skellig Michael is so amazing and special!

After a quick overnight in Kenmare, we continued driving clockwise on the Ring of Kerry until we reached Ballingskelligs, a sleepy little town on the edge of the Iveragh Penninsula, and one of the few places tourists can take boats out to visit the Skellig islands.

The weather on the ocean in these parts can be really unpredictable so we were instructed to call ahead the night before our scheduled departure to make sure it was still possible to go out on the boat the next day. The owner of the tour company, Sean, said it looked very unlikely that we’d be able to go out on the water the next day, but asked us to call the next morning before we left our hotel just in case things changed. Thankfully, the stormy weather we had been experiencing calmed down the day of our boat trip and we were cleared for an 11:00 am departure! We had made the reservation for this particular trip six months ahead of time so we were so fortunate that we could go out on our scheduled day as there are very limited boats allowed to visit the Skelligs each day. If the weather ends up being bad on the date you book, plain and simple, you are out of luck!

The Ballingskelligs pier is very small and only a few boats were docked there at the time of our visit. Note the very calm waters. Sadly, they did not stay like this very long! Once we left the small inlet, we got tossed around on the VERY rocky seas for almost 45 minutes straight. Thankfully, I took motion sickness medicine and did not get sea sick (however, I cannot says that was the case for everyone on our boat)! IMG_1101On our boat ride to Skellig Michael, the bigger of the two Skellig islands, we drove past Little Skellig, home to a population of 100,000 gannet seabirds. We also saw seals perched on some of the rocks. Next stop, Skellig Michael!

IMG_1115If you have seen the final scene of the latest Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens,” then you have seen parts of Skellig Michael. We visited this magnificent island before the movie came out so it was a fun surprise for us to see it up on the big screen just months after we had been there!  Skellig Micheal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and such a protected place that only a few boats a day are authorized to take visitors there. We were given two hours to explore the island, which was just enough time to climb the 600+ stone steps to the top and check out its ancient monastery before returning back to the boat. Little Skellig is off in the distance in the two photos posted below (sadly, I didn’t get a good pull back photo of Skellig Micheal from the boat, but it looked much like the Little Skellig, just bigger).IMG_1143 IMG_1179It was raining the entire way to the pier at Ballingskelligs, so I honestly thought we’d either be denied access to the island once we got there or best case scenario, we’d be hiking up the steps in wet weather. To our surprise, we had clear and sunny skies the entire time we were on the island! This was only the second day ALL YEAR that the Skelligs had seen sun (normally, they are clouded over and it’s raining, much like the rest of Ireland). Another amazing blessing on this trip. Gorgeous blue skies! We saw the sun some on our week long trip to Ireland, but to have it be completely sunny the entire time we were on the island was simply heavenly (and it also made it a much safer climb). Higher and higher we climbed! The stairs were very, very steep, but that forced us to pause on our way up and take in some absolutely marvelous views of the jagged rocks around us and beautiful ocean below (my husband, Greg, is the one hiking up in front of me in the black hoody and jeans)!IMG_1184 IMG_1200 IMG_1202 IMG_1205 IMG_1209 IMG_1217The little puffins that inhabit this island year-round are so cute! It was fun to watch them hop around and jump in and out of their little rock homes.
IMG_1181 IMG_1185The protected monastic site on the top of the island dates back to the 6th century. It is believed that only 12 monks lived on the island at one time. They slept in beehive cells (homes made completely from dry-built rocks) and their diet consisted of vegetables they grew on the island as well as meat from the fish and seabirds they caught. We saw an ancient graveyard with all sorts of stone crosses and the ruins of a medieval church. All of the structures we saw were in great shape since up until recently, visitors were not permitted to visit the island, so for the longest time it sat untouched. We spent about 15 minutes at the top, soaking in the sun. The wind blew slightly. I remember the sun warming my cheeks and my heart skipped some beats as I looked down at the vast ocean below. This was special. We were so far out in the ocean that we could only see a sliver of Ireland itself. I don’t remember speaking much. I sat and soaked. Soaked it all in. I was part of something so spectacular that day on Skellig Michael and can only hope that what I experienced then will be a little bit of what heaven will be like one day….
IMG_1221  IMG_1228 IMG_1233 IMG_1237  IMG_1242 IMG_2332


Be Sociable, Share!
read comments (0)


No comments yet.

Post a comment