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The Skelligs

 On a clear day, from Valentia Island in the northwest part of the Ring of Kerry, at the Iveragh Peninsula, you can see two conical rocks pointing toward the sky from amid the waves of the Atlantic. The Skelligs are unique and dramatic rock formations located about five miles off the southwestern coast of Ireland. The name "Skellig" comes from a Gaelic word meaning "rock in the sea". Many visitors claim that their boat tour to explore these wonders up close is the most unexpected pleasure of their entire vacation. The Skelligs are not accessible to foot traffic, but boat tours come reasonably close to the islands, weather permitting. Cruises take about 1½ hours and can be boarded at Valentia Island.

Skellig Michael

The Great Skellig, also known as Skellig Michael, stands 700 feet above the surface of the sea. On this island, you’ll see the restored remains of a 6th century monastic settlement, including a well preserved church, oratory, and living cells built in a distinct beehive shape. There is also an 1820 lighthouse. It is said that the monks who lived here survived by trading with passing ships. They used a stairway carved into the rocks to reach the water; it is still visible today. Learn more about Skellig Michael and the Beehive Huts.

Little Skellig

On Little Skellig, the ground often appears to be white from a distance. This is because the island serves as a breeding ground for more than 20,000 pairs of gannets. Puffins congregate on Puffin Island, which also hosts petrel and shearwaters.

The Skelligs Experience Visitors Centre

Visitors who don’t wish to brave the choppy seas can experience the Skelligs at The Skelligs Experience Visitors Centre, which is located on Valentia Island, about 8 miles from the western edge of Ring of Kerry, and (unlike the Skelligs) accessible by car ferry during the summer.  There centre features a 15-minute audiovisual tour of the islands, plus exhibits that detail the lifestyle of the early monks, birdlife, and the local lighthouses. The Centre is quite small however -- most of the displays are in one large room -- and there is an admission fee (check the website below for up-to-date fees and opening hours). Official Site:

Skellig Folkore

The Skelligs are the subject of their share of folklore, including a tale about a monk’s kidnapping at the hands of Vikings and the death of the abbot in 823. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted in the 16th century, marriage was forbidden during the season of Lent on the mainland, so many people circumvented this new rule by coming to Skellig Michael to be wed.


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