Day Seven: Ireland 2018

Today’s adventure has drawn the attention of nature lovers, pilgrims, and nerds alike for many years: Skellig Michael.For those of you who are not familiar Skellig Michael, there are a few different reasons for its significance. The name “Skellig” is derived from a Gaelic word for a splinter of stone (sceilig). Skellig Michael is named after (dedicated) to the archangel Michael, said to have appeared there to help Saint Patrick banish serpents into the Irish sea. The most familiar reason for visiting this site is that regardless of the inhospitable landscape of steep rock, you can find there a Gaelic monastery that was founded between the 6th and 8th century. Still today stand the remains of a tower and megalithic row and a cross slab known as the “Wailing Woman.” The monastery became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and is visited by thousands each year, though due to the often challenging passage from the mainland and the small landing area, the island is only available to the public during the summer months. Lucky for us, it is summer. This fantastic site has also been used as a filming location. Most recently, the island was used as a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). For the nature lovers of the world, both Skellig Michael and Little Skellig are home to including stormy petrel, guillemot, puffin and manx shearwater.To get to the island, you have to travel halfway around the Ring of Kerry. During this portion of the morning, we passed green and blue mountains, sea shanty towns, lakes and sea, and different types of ruins spread across the landscape. There were a few times that the views were just too beautiful for the pictures I took to do them justice (but I took the pictures anyway, just in case). Once we got out to the point, there were boats waiting to take passengers out to the island. Only ten or so people could be on a boat at a time so we divided our group in two different boats and loaded up. With the morning tides and a bit of rain, the waters were choppy as we set out, and started to roll the farther we went along. Two of the people with us were excited to see Skellig Michael but were struggling with seasickness for most of the trip, but other than that, the trip out was rather exciting, with waves crashing and everyone becoming soaking wet on some level or other. We were all snapping pictures along the way with death grips on our phones and cameras so as to not drop them as the boat hit each wave and bounced us around. Regardless of the queasiness and rough ride, the view was breathtaking. Given the chance to come back to this place before I’m old and gray, is like to make the hike to the top, and see what it feels like to be closer to God.

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