Vagabond Wild Irish Rover Day 6 Skellig Michael to Kenmare

Great Skellig or Skellig Michael-Star Wars fans know it as the island that was used as a filming location in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and aerial footage of the island was also used in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

October 22, 2021 Friday

We're up at 7 a.m. and head downstairs for a full Irish breakfast. Today we're taking a boat out to the Skellig Islands. The rest of our crew will be hiking the Bray Head Loop on Valentia Island-just on the other side of the harbor from Portmagee.

Bray Head Watchtower

Jay and I and the couple from Wisconsin have good rain gear so we're not too worried about getting wet. The skies are gray and threatening rain and the seas look somewhat rough. (Some of the people on the boat with us are just wearing jeans and light jackets. YIKES.)

We all get our tickets and board the boat. Once we're in open water we can see the islands off in the distance.

The boat takes us past Little Skellig-The island has a large bird population, including a colony of northern gannets which is the largest in Ireland, and one of the largest in the world.

We leave Little Skellig behind and head over to Skellig Michael.

Skellig Michael is the site of a Monastic Settlement dating back to the 6th century; however, there are accounts of Skellig Michael which date to pagan times, back in 1400 BC. 

Skellig Michael is the most westerly sacred site in Europe and it also finishes the line of ancient pilgrimage places in Europe. 

This line runs from Ireland through to France, Italy, and Greece and on to Palestine. This line is known as the Apollo/ St Michael axis, as it is believed to be known thousands of years before Christianity.

Skellig Michael was a place of refuge for numerous Catholics during penal times, as their rights and beliefs were being suppressed by the powers that be of that time.

The monks of St Fionan.
Skellig Michael was the home to the monks of St Fionan. These Skelligs monks led very simple lives out here in the wild Atlantic, living in stone beehive shaped huts. Although the huts were round-shaped on the outside, they were rectangular on the inside. They were carefully built to prevent a single drop of rain from penetrating their interior.

The Skellig monks spent their days praying in the church, while dedicating some of their time for studying and tending to their gardens. Archaeological evidence would suggest that the rock was the permanent home to approximately 12 monks. These monks vacated the Islands in the 13th century, where they reportedly moved to the mainland in Ballinskelligs; from then on, it became a place of pilgrimage.

The water near the landing area was a weird color blue.

And the island has it's own helipad.

The captain turns the boat around and we head back to Portmagee. We spy our fellow travelers up on Bray Head.

We all meet back at The Moorings for lunch-mushroom soup for Jay and seafood chowder for me-and sweet potato chips (fries) to split.

After lunch, Bébhinn take us to a local peat bog.

She shows us how to stack the bricks so they will dry out for use as winter heating fuel.

We continue our journey along the Ring of Kerry, we stop at Com an Chiste Ring of Kerry Lookout and Car Park for a few photos.

On our way to Derrynane Abbey, we stop for a photo op at the Derrynane Beg Ogham Stone.
FYI-Roughly 400 known ogham inscriptions are on stone monuments scattered around the Irish Sea, the bulk of them dating to the fifth and sixth centuries. Their language is predominantly Primitive Irish, but a few examples record fragments of the Pictish language. Ogham itself is an Early Medieval form of alphabet or cipher, sometimes known as the "Celtic Tree Alphabet".

We park at Derrynane Beach, walk across the sand to the "island" where the Derrynane Abbey is located. I put island in quotes because it's only an island during high tide.

All this walking and exploring,  we need to refuel, we stop for a pint at The Blind Piper Pub in Caherdaniel.

With Guinness in our bellies, we're ready to make our way from the Iveragh Peninsula to the Beara Peninsula and the town of Kenmare.

Our rooms are at The Coachman's Townhouse in the center of town. 
The room is HUGE!

We settle in a bit then head out to the local SuperValu grocery store for another carpet picnic. 

Others in our group head out to check out the pubs for dinner. We prefer the quiet of our spacious room.

Tomorrow we're heading to Skibbereen then on to West Cork. Our Wild Irish Rover adventure is winding down. Only two more days to go.

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Next up: a stone circle visit, Healy Pass, lunch at Breens Lobster Bar, Puxley Castle-with a surprise, a WILD ATLANTIC walk around Bullig Bay, then West Cork Hotel for the evening.

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