We stayed in a B&B in Caherciveen and then took a boat out to Skellig Michael on a Sunday morning in September. The number of visitors is limited at this fascinating island, and all the boats travel together. It’s a rough crossing. We felt ill but other people on the boat actually lost their Full Irish breakfasts. The Atlantic was rough enough that they weren’t sure the boats could go out until just before departure time. We often couldn’t see the other boats due to the big rolling waves.
I’ll quote Wikipedia because it’s hard to describe this site.
Skellig Michael (from Sceilig Mhichíl in the Irish language, meaning Michael’s rock), also known as Great Skellig, is a steep rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean about 9 miles (12 kilometres) from the coast of County Kerry, Ireland. It is the larger of the two Skellig Islands. After probably being founded in the 7th century, for 600 years the island was a centre of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. The Gaelic monastery, which is situated almost at the summit of the 230-metre-high rock became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is one of Europe’s better known but least accessible monasteries.
Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved. The very spartan conditions inside the monastery illustrate the ascetic lifestyle practiced by early Irish Christians. The monks lived in stone ‘beehive’ huts (clochans), perched above nearly vertical cliff walls.
They aren’t kidding about how steep it is; there are 600 steps up the rocky cliffs, built by the monks centuries ago, and last year two people died at the site. There are now safety talks but no railings.
1. We left from Portmagee, known for Ireland’s runner-up Top Toilet in 2002!
2. A seal pokes out of the water
3. The boat dog, Nini, wants to get the seal!
4-13 are of Skellig Michael itself. Note all the stone stairs (6, 9, 13) and the beehive hut living quarters (7, 8). Do you know what 11 shows? A lot of wild bunny poo!
14. A view of Small Skellig, the other island, which is a bird sanctuary only, so no human visitors. All that white on the crags: birds. Skellig Michael is also a bird sanctuary, but alas, we were a little late for puffin season. David offended the guide when he asked what the big deal was with everyone loving puffins. She basically said she wasn’t going to waste her time telling him since he had that attitude. 🙂
The ride back was fortunately not as rough. We did not eat our packed lunches at the island since we weren’t feeling great from the morning trip and we took our fake Dramamine (it’s a prescription here)! This was an exceptional place to experience and just seemed such a drastic, effective way to ignore the world. I always find the sound of the crashing ocean focuses my thoughts inward. I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad to live amongst bunnies and puffins.