Skellig Michael and Small Skellig stand like Irish Bali Hai sentinels about 12 km off the coast from Portmagee. From the highlands of The Ring of Kerry the islands are seen as spectacular pinnacles on a clear day. A wisp of cloud adorned the tips of Skellig Michael as the boat pulls up in heaving seas next to the slippery stone quay. The island is not a good tour for the disabled.
Small Skellig is equally renowned for its ornithology, the home of some 27,000 pairs of gannets the second largest colony of such seabirds in the world. The islands are not volcanic, although the sharp spires made them appear so, but they are created of the same 350million-year-old Devonian Sandstone that runs right through the backbone of Kerry from the county’s south-western headlands to the shores of Killarney's lakes.
To get to the top of the Skellig Michael there are no hand rails along the steep stone steps, and just when you think you have them tackled, another set rises around the bend. Vertigo may be a non-priced addition to the tour.
After walking through the complex and sitting on a rock listening to the history of the religious shrine, I can feel the humbleness and serenity blow in with the wind like no other site that I have visited in Ireland, even on St. Patrick’s Island in the middle of
It is unbelievable that the cliff dwelling gannets migrate from here to
It is great that the site is preserved and the Skellig Centre on across from Portmagee, called the Skellig Experience Centre, has an 80-seat auditorium and a 16-minute audio visual tpur, but to me no recreated model is needed when you are seated in the living laboratory of life.
But the Skellig Experience Centre does have a wonderful underwater gallery of still photographs and videography.
If diving Skellig waters, see the steel blue of the Conger Eel, the brilliant orange of Cup Coral, the multi-hued mauves of the Dahlia Anemone, the milky transparency of the Compass Jellyfish, and the ballerina-like grace of Skelligs’ Grey Seals, as they weave their way among the kelp fronds, always peering with a wide-eyed curiosity at the divers who daily visit this virtual ‘seal garden’ on the underwater cliffs of Small Skellig.
If you ever get to this remote southwestern corner of Ireland, the Skellig Islands must be on your itinerary.
Please note: Most of the Skellig Islands photos are courtesy of Des Lavelle, who operates a boat service to the Skellig Islands from Valentina Island. Contact Des at firstname.lastname@example.org and check his tours out at www.skelligboattrips.com