Skellig Islands: What to Know Before You Go

What you should know about the Skellig Islands before you plan your trip

About the Skellig Islands            

The Skellig Islands are two small extremely steep and rocky islands situated about 13km west of Bolus Head on the Ring of Kerry. The larger of the two islands Skellig Michael is open to the public, the smaller one is not but can be seen and photographed from Skellig Michael. A Christian Monastery was founded on Skellig Michael between the 6th and 8th century and remained occupied until the 12th century. The remains of the monastery, and most of the island, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Recently the island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Skellig Islands Hut
Skellig Islands Beehive Huts
How to Get to the Skellig Islands

You can only take a boat trip that docks on the island in the summer season which is between May 12th and October 2nd and the boat trips are always subject to weather conditions on the day. Outside of this time period it may be possible to do a perimeter boat tour which allows you to see the island close up but won’t stop to let people off.

The crossing takes about 40 minutes to an hour but can take longer depending on weather. There are contact details for the local boatmen that have a permit to run Skellig Island trips on the Office of Public Works website. The Skellig Experience Visitor centre also runs cruises around the island without landing on it.

Before you go to the Skellig Consider the Following:
  1. It’s a seriously hard climb! There are more than 600 steps to the summit and they are extremely steep. There are no handrails and the rocks can be dangerous, especially if wet.
  2. If you decide to go, then you really have to make the climb or you will be waiting at the bottom with no shelter for the boat to return.
  3. Along the climb there are intermittent little plateaus where you can take a rest but they are not really suitable to wait for long periods of time.
  4. There is no toilet on the island or on the boats. Go before you go!
  5. What to bring? Good walking shoes or boots, a jacket, some food, water and sunscreen.

Please watch the following safety video produced by the office of public works:

Skellig Experience Visitor Centre

If you can’t make it to the Skellig Islands we recommend that you visit the Skellig Experience located just off the bridge from Portmagee to Valentia Island. Here you will find exhibitions on all aspects of the Skellig Islands as well as a 14 minute film presentation.

Contact the Irish Tourism Group –

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit!  Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

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10 Stops to Make on Your Ring of Kerry Tour

The Ring of Kerry, a 180km circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland’s southwest, is quite possibly Ireland’s most well-known driving route. Superb Mountains and coastal settings combined with vibrant towns and villages will make this tour one of the highlights of your Ireland vacation.

All of our Self Drive tours include a detailed suggested itinerary which will help you decide what to see or what to leave out. For those who wish to take a break from driving we can arrange a bus tour through this route.

The 10 Stops to Make on your self-drive or Escorted Ring of Kerry Tour are;

 

  1. Killorglin

Killorglin is the first town you will meet when you begin your Ring of Kerry Adventure! Home to the famous ‘Puck Fair’, Ireland’s largest and the world’s oldest market fair. The town has some nice restaurants and shops and pretty riverside views.

Rosbeigh Strand, Glenbeigh, Ring of Kerry
Rosbeigh Strand, Glenbeigh, Ring of Kerry
  1. Glenbeigh & Rosbeigh Beach

The mountainous backdrop here is glorious, and the half circle of hills from Seefin to Drung Hill, nicknamed the “Glenbeigh Horseshoe” is one of Kerry’s finest mountain walks.  Near to Glenbeigh Village you will find Rosbeigh Beach with its lovely sand dunes and shale walks.

  1. Cahersiveen

This is the principal town on the Ring of Kerry and birthplace of the famous Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’ Connell. Pay a visit to ‘The Barracks’, Cahersiveen Heritage Centre which gives an insight into the life and times of Cahersiveen.

Geokaun Valentia Island Ring of Kerry
Geokaun, Valentia Island
  1. Valentia Island

You can reach Valentia  by the car ferry from Cahersiveen from April to October. Outside of this time take the bridge across to the island from the pretty harbour village of Portmagee.  There are a few places to visit on the island including the village of Knighstown with its beautiful period buildings, Valentia Island Lighthouse and Geokaun Mountain & Fogher Cliffs; Valentia’s highest point and a superb spot to enjoy 360 degree views of the island and beyond!

  1. Skellig Experience Visitor Centre & The Skellig Islands
Skellig Islands, Ring of Kerry
Skellig Islands, Ring of Kerry

Skellig Michael also known as the Great Skellig is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. At the summit of the 230m high rock there is a 6th century Christian monastery and stone beehive huts which the monks who inhabited the island lived in. Boat trips to the islands can be taken from Portmagee pier. Trips to Skellig are not for the feint hearted  however as there are 670 stone steps to climb before you reach the top! You can learn more about the Skelligs at the Skellig Island Visitor Experience which is located on Valentia Island near the bridge across to Portmagee.

  1. Ballinskelligs

Ballinskelligs or “Baile na Sceilge” is one of the few remaining Irish speaking areas in this region of Kerry. Southwest of the village you will find Bolus Head, which looks over St. Finan’s Bay and the Skelligs. The ruins of Cill Rialiag, an early Christian monastic settlement are located nearby. Ballinskellig Beach known locally as Ladies Beach is a stunning place to relax or take a long beach walk!

Charlie Chaplin Statue, Waterville, Ring of Kerry
Charlie Chaplin Statue, Waterville
  1. Waterville

Waterville is a lovely little village overlooking stunning Ballinskelligs Bay and nestled on the beautiful Lake Currane.  The town was a favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin and his family who used to holiday here. They first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over ten years.

Derrynane House Ring of Kerry
Derrynane House
  1. Caherdaniel and Derrynane House

Caherdaniel is small but striking and perhaps set in one of the most scenic locations on the Ring of Kerry, on the shore of Derrynane Bay. Derrynane House is the ancestral home of Daniel O’ Connell, a 19th century politician who achieved Catholic emancipation for the Irish people. The house is now a public museum.

  1. Kenmare

Kenmare town was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and has a history of lace making, demonstrations of which can be seen at the town’s Heritage Centre.  One of the most striking features of the town is its colourfully painted houses and shops. There are lots of nice restaurants, pubs and craft shops here also.

View-from-Molls-Gap Ring of Kerry
View from Moll’s Gap, Ring of Kerry
  1. Moll’s Gap

Moll’s Gap is a pass on the road from Kenmare to Killarney. Here you will find unrivalled views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. Nearby you will find Avoca Handweavers which sells Irish giftware and local food produce.

To discover these locations and more on your own Ring of Kerry tour, contact us today:

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/

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Saint Brigid’s Day in Ireland

Saint Bridgid’s Cross

Saint Brigid is the Patroness of Ireland, also known as ‘Mary of the Gael’. Her feast day, Saint Brigid’s Day, is the 1st of February, the start of the Spring season. Traditionally Saint Brigid crosses like this one are made from rushes on her feast day and hung in the house for the rest of the year to ward off evil and danger from fire.

Saint Brigid’s Day is believed to have come from the pagan festival ‘Imbolc’ which literally beans ‘in the belly’ and celebrates spring and the arrival of longer days. In pagan mythology, Brigid was the goddess of fertility.

In some parts of Ireland St Brigid’s Day is celebrated with the ‘’Brideog’’, a handmade doll traditionally fashioned out of straw and dressed in white. The Brigeog is taken from house to house and usually at each house the visitors play traditional Irish music and dance.

The Brideog Doll (Image credit Doolin 2 Aran Ferries)
The Brideog Doll (Image credit Doolin 2 Aran Ferries)

Saint Brigid is associated with County Kildare and is sometimes referred to as ‘Brigid of Kildare’. According to legend Brigid founded a monastery at Kildare on the site of an older pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, served by a group of young women who tended an eternal flame. In the 6th century, a monastery was erected on the same site. The original monastery no longer exists but a new Cathedral was built on the site during the 13th century. This Cathedral still stands and the sisters of St. Brigid (nuns) reside there.

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit! Contact us today for a quotation  –

USA & Canada 1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone 0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/

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