Hello and welcome to a brisk morning on the South Western Irish coast in the small fishing town of Portmagee, 200 miles from Dublin.
Better known as an island on Ahch-To, the planet housing the first Jedi Temple and Luke Skywalker’s solace three decades after Return of the Jedi. This isn’t just a tourist destination, it’s a huge page where Star Wars fans flock to.
Your journey to Skellig will begin with arriving at a marina in a small coastal Irish village. For us (as for most) it was Portmagee. Portmagee is a quaint little place accessibly only by car – we’re not in London anymore!
We booked our trip far in advance through Casey’s Tour, these fill up quickly and are only open at certain times of the year. The island is an incredibly delicate place so only a few people can visit at a time, if you want to go, get planning!
The tours can be cancelled on the day depending on the weather, for us it was a beautifully sunny day. The best they’d had all year, we lucked out completely.
When booking make sure you choose the landing tour if you actually wish to be on the island itself.
The journey to Skellig takes about 45 minutes, during which you’re treated to absolutely wild views of the Irish coastline and get that amazing insignificant feeling that only occurs when you’re surrounded on all sides by vast, vast ocean.
If there’s time, and your tour operator wishes, you might be able to get a little whistlestop tour around Little Skellig. This mass of rock feels like something from the end of a video game, and it’s completely covered in sea gulls. Bizarrely cool.
Skellig Michael is only a stones throw from Little Skellig, but it’s incredibly lush and verdant in comparison. From here Lil Skellig looks like Skellig Michael’s goth little brother, relatable.
Skellig Michael houses a monastery built sometime between the 6th and 8th century, though long since abandoned, it’s presence can be felt all over the island.
And with no one manning the lighthouse (sitting on a side of the island you can’t visit) the population is a huge 0.
It isn’t called Great Skellig for nothing. It’s pretty impressive. The trek to the top is up some extremelt steep staircases built hundreds of years ago, even for me, a 22 year old man, who might not be the most fit but is definitely possess some kind of okay fitness level, it was tiring.
Upon arrival, you take a windy path ascending only a short amount, this is before you hit the stairs and the real Skellig mission begins.
You should have a few hours on the island, meaning you aren’t in any rush. I enjoyed taking my time with the climb, taking as much of it in as I could and taking as many pictures as I wished. Most people seem to rush to the monastery at the top, making it overly crowded and nowhere near as enjoyable as the rest of the island.
And now for some intense Star Wars flashbacks. You’ll feel like Rey as you tackle those steps. Every now and then you’ll spot a site from the film, even if you can’t actually walk Rey’s exact path, it’s amazing.
Spoilers: Rey’s exact path doesn’t exist, it’s a mashed together clip of various parts of the hike. The scene where Rey meets Luke is filmed in an out of bounds area, however you can see all of it.
As much of a massive Star Wars fan I am, the whole island experience was just so incredible that I forgot I was there because of Star Wars.
Whilst the monastery is incredibly impressive, it’s also where everybody goes to spend most of their time on the island. I preferred climbing it and feeling almost alone on this rock in the middle of the ocean, it did provide some breathtaking views though.
And so the descent must begin…
We were picked up right where we were dropped off on the island, no trouble there. The boat journey back was incredibly smooth and so I promptly napped for 90% of it.
I couldn’t recommend a trip to Skellig Michael more, once again here’s the link to our amazing tour operators.
These photographs are taken on a Canon 60D with an 18-55mm lens and a Sony A6000 with a 16-50mm lens. Photocredit to Fae for some nice ass shots of me.