Just under two years ago I accompanied the masses and spent my afternoon at the movies to watch The Force Awakens. Twice. I confess, before 2015 I hadn’t watched all the Star Wars movies back to back, and could hardly remember the older ones.
I decided it was time to become one with the force.
Along with finally jumping on board the Millennium Falcon with the rest of the world, I added another location to my list of “must see’s.” Similar to when I first saw the Cliffs of Moher in an online photograph, I saw an island in the final scene of The Force Awakens that stole a part of my soul.
Also similar to the Cliffs of Moher I had no idea where this island was.
It just so happened, that this island was located off the coast of Portmagee in South West Kerry, you know…in Ireland. The place I was planning to go. The islands were identified, and became a “must see” for our trip. This adventure didn’t come easy though, it took months for us to secure a spot. Thanks to Star Wars this island has become very popular.
Plus, the place is covered in puffins. PUFFINS.
Stepping foot onto Skellig Michael was like stepping into a time machine. I went with the hopes of walking where Luke Skywalker walked, but left with so much more. Before Star Wars was even a flicker in George Lucas’s eye, this island was occupied by monks dating back between the sixth and eighth century.
Their monastery still stands.
I was blown away by the history. The monks began a life on this island and built their huts by chipping away at the rocks on the cliffs. They received a few big ticket items from the mainlands, but lived almost completely off the gardens they built on the island.
The huts are still completely in tact.
Getting to the monastery requires a trek up over 600 steps, but with the surrounding views it almost feels like a walk in the park. Almost. The climb went quick, shout out to the Washington mountains I frequent that made these steps feel like just another hike.
The boat ride to the island left at 9am and took about 50 minutes. There are no bathrooms on the island, so plan accordingly. Our captain advised us when to be back to the boat for our departure back to the mainland, and then we were on our own for about three hours.
I loaded up with Irish pancakes to keep me full. They fueled me for over six hours.
It’s places like this that put perspective to just how large this world is. Here I was, thousands of miles from home, stepping foot onto a large part of Irish history. It was monumental, and I’ll never forget it.
After hours of exploration, we made our way back to the boat for our trek to the mainland, but not before one last stop. Our captain took us to “Little Skellig,” just around the corner from Skellig Michael. We didn’t get off the boat, as this island is home to the largest bird colony in Ireland.
The bird colonies includes the illusive Gannet. You couldn’t pay me to go on that island.
Where to stay: About 15 minutes away from the Portmagee Marina, sits an adorable B&B called The Klondyke House. The breakfast was great, and the room was adorable. Very easy drive from here to the marina.
Where to eat: There are plenty of options in the town just down the road from Klondyke House. We chose The Lobster Bar and Grill. The service was phenomenal.
Portmagee is an adorable town, even if you don’t make the trek to Skellig, it’s a must see.
Travel Tip: Specifically in regards to Skellig Michael, if you’re unable to book a spot, still show up. It’s said that if you get there early enough and there is a no show you can snag their spot.