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Snapshot: Discovering Skellig Michael from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Aerial view of Skellig Michael Island

It makes an arresting sight, a tiny speck of an Island rising from the middle of the ocean blanketed with lush greenery and topped with a jagged sloping rock, to a peak that sometimes may be hidden behind cloud cover.

This breath-taking vision makes its appearance at the last scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Rey lands on the secluded island and negotiated with a precarious rock path that leads her to the top, where she came face to face with vanished Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. Cutting a lonesome figure at the peak, the aged Jedi stares pensively out to the sea while battling blistering winds.

The Skellig Michael, the bigger of the two Skellig Islands, lies west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. Over 350 million years of Devonian Sandstone form the volcanic looking Skellig rocks, giving it the rugged, uneven look. The glimpse we got from The Force Awakens hints at an island almost inhabitable (except if you’re a Jedi), and it was, for a long time until a monastery, believed to the one of Ireland’s earliest monastic settlements, was founded on the island.

Once a mating ground for birds, a Christian monastery and settlement sprung up between the 6th and 8th century. Abandoned in the late 12th century, the St. Fionan’s monastery is today, still very well preserved. The island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, because of its unique environmental setting and cultural significance.

Monastery on Skellig Island
The monastery and its settlement were erected from piling rocks on top of another.

A close-up look of how the huts are built

Visitors to the island can explore the monastery and the settlement at the summit, which takes 670 steps to reach. The monks of the monastery lived in beehive shaped huts made of stone. Round on the outside, the huts are rectangular on the inside, built in a manner where not even a drop of rain can enter. Do venture into a hut to admire the layout. After the monks left the island, it once again flourished with birdlife, and is a favorite place of puffins, which often visit in late Spring.

Visitors can assess this far-flung island during the summer (May to October), where boat licences are granted to tour operators who ferry visitors to Skellig Michael. Island exploration is strict, during bad weather, climbs up to the monastery are forbidden because the timeworn steps are steep and rocky.

With the island showing up in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer, you can bet Skellig Michael would be hot property very soon, flooded with legions of Star Wars fans.

Pre-book a boat trip to the Skellig Michael here



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