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Skellig Michael, Ireland’s Number One Attraction (It’s EPIC)

Have we explored everything in Ireland? No. Are we a little too enthusiastic about this post? Quite possibly. But is Skellig Michael the most epic place to visit in Ireland? Yes, why yes it is.

Forewarning: this post was overtaken by puffins.

About a month after we booked our excursion to Greater Skellig with the good folks at SkelligsRock.com, we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the final scene, we recognized Skellig Michael as the location and we simultaneously looked at each other and said “OH NO.”

Oh no?

Oh no. That kind of publicity would mean crowds.

But as it turns out, the Skellig Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and under preservation. There are only a limited number of boat licenses issued annually therefore tours are limited and only open May through October (depending on weather). We understood this and decided if we had to skip out on other excursions because of weather delay, we would be prepared because this was our Ireland MUST DO. We drove hundreds of miles of narrow, winding roads, survived an angry ferry ticket-taker, survived booping a bull on the nose so come hell or high water, we were getting to Skellig Michael!

The morning of the tour, visitors are asked to call their tour operator to double check that the weather was permitting. Our morning was cloudy but fair enough for the tour to continue! Hurray!

Boat Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Our SkelligsRock group was comprised of 8.

Leaving Portmagee on our Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Goodbye Portmagee!

Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
The waves were really choppy. We came prepared and brought Dramamine for motion sickness but didn’t need it. Our boat companions however did not fare well and we watched a few run to the back of the boat to throw up so we offered out the Dramamine.

Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
After an hour of speeding through rough waves and feeling extremely small in a giant ocean, LAND!

Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Diving birds on our Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Diving Gannet seabirds. They can achieve speeds of up to 100 km/62 mi per hour from 30 metres/98 ft.

Puffins on our Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Welcome to the island! I’ll be your host, Paddy the Puffin.

Puffins on our Tour of Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Skellig Michael is home to thousands of Atlantic puffins who use the island for breeding during summer months.

Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
These cute guys are everywhere on the island. Be a little wary of these guys awkwardly flying overhead: they fly low and you may get a puffin in the face.

Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins make funny ‘moo’-ing sounds instead of chirping or squawking.

Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Stairway on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Stairway on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Stairway on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Visiting Skellig Michael is not for those with mobility issues or fear of heights. One wrong step can, and has in the past, prove fatal.

Stairway on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Stairs on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Standing right in front of sheer dropping cliffs (basically the whole island is like that).

Etrance to Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Entrance to the Christian monastary.

  • Founded between the 6th-8th century & continuously occupied until late 12th century.
  • 12 monks and an abbot lived here at any one time.
  • The monks lived on a garden diet and also feasted on fish & birds (including eggs).
  • True to their form, Vikings attacked the monastery in 823.
  • Between 950-1044, the site was dedicated to Saint Michael (hence Skellig Michael, skellig being a Gaelic word for ‘rock in the sea’).
  • Harsher weather and changes in the Irish Church caused the monastery to abandon the island and move the abbey to Ballinskelligs.
Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Gravestone on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
The first lighthouse on Michael Skellig was built in 1826. 2 principle lighthouse keepers and their families occupied the island. These children were born, and died, on the island.

Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Birds have found their way into the hives and have nested in some of the corners. The keepers of the island created make-shift curtains for them.

Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

hearth interior Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Currently there are 3 keepers who occupy Michael Skellig for 2 weeks at a time. One is giving a little history of the island. His wife sitting & sketching in the top left of the photo.

Graveyard on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Monk graves.

Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Beehive monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Beehive monastery interior on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Monastery ruins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Nest in the interior of a beehive monastery on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Beehive monastery on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
We were on our way down to the dock when Luke Skywalker-husband was accosted by Ray, offering a lightsaber.

Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Will Luke Skywalker 2 take the proffered lightsaber? Find out December 15, 2017 in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Puffins on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
“Darn it Paddy! I have to wait that long to find out what Luke Skywalker does??!”

Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Supplies for the island keepers.

After several hours of exploring Greater Skellig Michael, we loaded into our boat and toured around the island:

Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Hellicopter pad on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Helicopter pad to the top right.

Old lighthouse on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
This is the first lighthouse on the island. It was destroyed by a wave during a violent storm.

Lighthouse on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
The second lighthouse was built around 1904. It was modernized in the 1960s and is currently unmanned.

Lighthouse on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
After driving around Greater Skellig, our tour boat took us to the nearby Little Skellig island.

Seals of Little Skellig near our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
“Draw me like one of your French girls.”

Seals of Little Skellig near our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Gannet seabirds of Little Skellig, near our tour of Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Gannet seabirds.

Birds on Little Skellig near our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
So. Much. Poop.

Little Skellig near Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael

Little Skellig, near our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Now you know that white stuff covering Little Skellig isn’t snow.

Skellig Islands on our Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
Little Skellig to the left and Greater Skellig Michael to the right.

Tour of Greater Skellig Michael, as featured in Star Wars. Top Number 1 Attraction in Ireland - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skellig-michael
See the curving trail cutting through the large green patch? Those are the steps we just traversed.

Exploring Skellig Michael is, without a doubt, the highlight of our trip and probably the most epic place we have ever visited. SkelligsRock did an awesome job and we highly recommend their services.