Tuesday 27 September 2016

"The most fantastic and impossible rock in the world" - the stunning Skellig Islands

Published 21/12/2015 | 12:39

In the Wild Atlantic Way’s beautiful far South West – where the ancient Kingdom of Kerry meets wild West Cork – five great peninsulas with mountainous spines stretch miles out into the ocean.

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There’s a distinctly edge-of-the-world feel to the Wild Atlantic Way's Southern Peninsulas, which have come to international recognition as a location in the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.  This serene and majestic location lays claim to the rising peaks of the awe-inspiring Skellig Islands or Na Scealga in Irish.

Skellig Michael and Little Skellig encompass the Skellig Islands with Skellig Michael designated a UNECSO World Heritage Site being home to a well preserved monastic outpost of the early Christian period, accessed by some 600 steps.

Perhaps most eloquently captured by great Irish poet George Bernard Shaw who described the islands as:

"The most fantastic and impossible rock in the world: …the Skelligs are pinnacled, crocketed, spired, arched, caverned, minaretted; and these gothic extravagances are not curiosities of the islands: they are the islands: there is nothing else. The rest of the cathedral may be under the sea for all I know…An incredible, impossible, mad place…I tell you the thing does not belong to any world that you and I have lived and worked in: it is part of our dream world."

As this photo gallery shows, from any angle or vantage point on the nearby Ring of Kerry, these two spectacular pinnacles, lying 12km off the coast, have magnetised visitors and locals alike for generations. There are a number of prime vantage points on the mainland which offer you clear views of the magnificent islands and allow you to enjoy and discover more of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Spectacular aerial view of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. The island lighthouse on Skellig Micheal was built in 1826.
Spectacular aerial view of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. The island lighthouse on Skellig Micheal was built in 1826.
Climbing the 600 steps to the early Christian monastery on Skellig Michael
View of Little Skellig emerging from the sea fog as observed from Skellig Michael. Visits to the island are by tour only which is seasonal and with limited capacity.
View of Little Skellig and Skellig Micheal from Coomanaspic. The views from the incredible heights of Coomanaspic Pass are breathtaking. It’s possible see over both sides of the peninsula marked with dramatic cliff faces that drop straight to the sea.
Beehive huts at the monastery atop Skellig Michael
Skellig Islands as seen from St. Finian’s Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way
The Kerry Cliffs offer the nearest viewing point to Skellig Islands and to Puffin Island in the foreground.
Red sky at night….view of the Skellig Islands from Bray Head Signature Point on Valentia Island. Valentia Island is access by bridge from the pretty coastal village of Portmagee.
Little Skellig, a dot in the Atlantic Ocean. Image credit Raymond Fogarty.
Ballinskelligs Blue Flag Beach offers the stunning sight of the Skellig Island peaks rising from the Atlantic Ocean.

From the magical astronomical delights of the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve, to golden beaches, scenic hikes, action packed water sports, vibrant, traditional cultures all wrapped in a warm welcome from locals, the Wild Atlantic Way Souther Peninsulas offer any visitor a unique and memorable experience.

For more inspiration to help plan your discovery of the Wild Atlantic Way check out www.wildatlanticway.com, @discoverirl #WildAtlanticWay

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