The Fáilte Awakens: Skellig Michael opening date confirmed after rockfall
You may have to wait until December for the next installment of Star Wars, but Skellig Michael is opening to visitors this Sunday.
This week, the Office of Public Works confirmed a season opening date of Sunday, May 14 for the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The opening date had been jeopardised in recent weeks following "a major rockfall" at a location close to the OPW base at the Island, it says.
"A considerable amount of rock and other material had descended onto the Lighthouse Road... and there were significant safety concerns that further unstable material still on the higher slopes could pose a direct threat," the OPW said in a statement.
OPW staff and their safety contractor have worked to resolve these issues, however, and following a final inspection by the OPW’s structural engineer yesterday (May 10), the go-ahead has been given to allow the site to open this weekend.
Set 13km off the Kerry coast, Skellig Michael's fame has gone galactic following a scene-stealing appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
The Disney franchise lost little time in revealing its central role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, set for release this December, either.
The rock appears in the official trailer (above) from the very first scene... providing another mouthwatering marketing opportunity for Tourism Ireland.
Skellig Michael is reached by boat from several ports around the Skellig Coast, with both the season (May 14 - October 2) and visitor numbers (some 180 tourists each day) limited due to safety and environmental concerns.
Boat trips cost around €60, take a full day and are weather-dependent. You can check here for a list and contact details of the 15 official trip operators for 2017.
OPW staff usually spend up to three weeks making the Skellig site ready for visitors each year, addressing issues such as loosened steps and rockfalls.
Assuming there are no further incidents, it expects that the site will remain open to the public until this year's scheduled closing date of October 2.