We continued to travel around the Ring of Kerry. We stopped at a special place called the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre. It is a museum/showcase that tells the story of Great Skellig.
The Skellig Michael is only one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ireland. The visitor centre has exhibits on the site plus a cafe and gift shop.
1400 years ago, a group of monks went looking at the furthest edge of the known world to find a place of solitude. They found it at the Great Skellig – a rock pinnacle, 11 km. off the coast of Ireland. They established a monastery called Skellig Michael, named after the archangel Michael. Skellig is derived from the Irish word for splinter of stone.
Evidence of the early use of boats comes from the Kilnaruane Pillar Stone. It is pre-Viking and shows a skin covered currach moving skyward.
There had been a hermitage on the rock as early as 60 AD and was a place of pilgrimage. The monastery was founded and built by St. Fionan. The monks built stone stairs leading to the top, walls and cobble huts of stone.
At the visitor centre, you can arrange for a boat tour to take you to the island. You will need to climb about 600 uneven stone steps to get to it. The stone cobble huts seemed familiar to me. I turned a corner and saw this sign.
In the movie, Luke Skywalker has disappeared and he is found on a distant planet – the home of the first Jedi. The location used was Skellig Michael.
Our guide told the story of how when the Disney film crew first came, there were about 125 fishing boats in the village where they were based. They paid the boat owners $500 Euros not to fish that day so no boat would accidentally be in a scene. When they came a second time, there were now 250 “fishing boats” ready to not fish that day.
Great Skellig is also home to a huge influx of migratory birds that are protected as a nature preserve.
We continued on with the Ring of Kerry ride. It was emerald views all the way back to our hotel.
Just after the visitor centre we passed through Waterville and the Butler Arms Hotel. It was opened in 1884. In its 100 year history it has hosted Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Virginia Woolf and John Steinbeck.
Charlie Chaplin came to the hotel in the 60s but it was booked. However the owner stepped up and offered his private suite. As a result, Chaplin returned often, staying at a home he bought in the town. There is a statue and plaque in his honour.
We made a leg-stretching, photo op stop at Com an Chiste (Coomakista). It offers a panoramic view of Kenmare River, Abbey Island and Deenish Island.
Ladies View Lookout is part of Killarney National Park. It’s named after Queen Victoria’s Ladies-In-Waiting who came here during the queen’s visit it 1861. The video title is misnamed.
One more stop at Trout Lake
And we finished our circular trip of the Ring of Kerry back in Killarney. Tomorrow is our last full day in Ireland as we head to Kildare.