Skellig Michael opens up after rockfall delay
Published 15/05/2016 | 02:30
Skellig Michael will be opened up to visitors today, following a delay to the start of the official tourist season.
The Office of Public Works had originally hoped to grant access to the UNESCO World Heritage site yesterday, but was forced to close off the Co Kerry island to the public for a further 24 hours following a major rockfall on the main visitor access route last Monday.
Workers were deployed to break up two tonnes of rock that had landed in the middle of the path leading up to the isolated outpost's medieval monastic site.
But the OPW has confirmed that subsequent successful engineering and technical assessments mean the protected island will remain open from today until October 2. However, the OPW also warned that it would immediately close off the island again, should any further "identifiable risk" emerge.
Tourists chiefs in west Kerry have noted a surge in interest in the breathtaking isle, after it featured at the climax of smash-hit blockbuster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The OPW has issued 15 permits for the new season, up from 11 last year, which will allow 180 tourists to visit the 200m-high outpost every day for the next four-and-a-half months - up from last year's daily capacity of 132 visitors.
However, some boatmen have claimed the restricted season and limits on passenger capacity will leave hundreds of Star Wars fans disappointed.