Photographs: Skellig Islands
The Skelligs are two small, steep, and rocky islands in the Atlantic Ocean located approximately thirteen kilometres off the south west coast of Ireland. The larger and more famous of the two is
Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael), an exceptionally well preserved UNESCO World Heritage site that was home to an early religious settlement.
It was used as the location for Luke Skywalker's hideout in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. This has resulted in a large increase in tourism, and
not everybody is happy about that.
A journey to the Skellig Islands starts with a boat journey from the beautiful fishing village of Portmagee. Though the view may be idyllic, the crossing most definitely is not; seasickness medication is strongly recommended.
After an eternity of rough seas our boat pulled up at
Sceilig Bheag (Little Skellig), the smaller of the two islands.
The island is home to a large bird population, including a colony of almost 30,000 pairs of
Landing on the island is forbidden, and in any case is likely impossible.
After a few minutes we left Little Skellig behind and headed for the main event.
Our first look at
Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael) was every bit as thrilling as I imagined it would be. I found myself thinking about what it must have been like to live here in the distant past.
Weather conditions can sometimes prevent boats from landing on the island, though there were no such problems today; another was unloading its passengers as we approached.
After the guts of an hour on a small boat it was a relief to set foot on dry land.
The official UNESCO World Heritage marker has been "blessed" by the island's resident puffin population.
The more modern signage appears to have done slightly better.
This walkway leads from the landing point to the main part of the island.
It's only when you look back in the other direction that you realise just how exposed it is.
There was a guide waiting for us ready to explain the safety rules. (This isn't that guide, but I thought I'd share a photo anyway.)
There are 640 steps to climb to the top of the island. There are the first few.
Many of these shots were taken on the way down at the end of my visit. I deliberately made sure that I was last in line so as to get unobstructed pictures.
The island is a rare treasure.
Here's another look at the access route from a higher vantage point.
Skellig Michael is not a good place for those unsteady on their feet...
...or those who don't like stairs!
The easiest way to the top is to fly, though this option is only available to the residents.
There is a clearing about half way up that is great for photographs.
This path was off limits today, but it may look familiar to those from a galaxy far, far away.
Looking back along the path leading towards the monastery.
Monastery entrance, with Little Skellig in the distance.
This might be a good place to hide if you're a Jedi in retirement.
Room with a view.
One last look at Little Skellig in the distance.
Heading back into the Atlantic Ocean.