The Southwest: Places to Explore

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The Skelligs

In the far northwestern corner of the Ring of Kerry, across Portmagee Channel, lies scenic Valentia Island, where the eastern end of the first transatlantic telegraph cable was sited, and also known for its well-preserved tetrapod fossil trackways. Visible from Valentia, and on a clear day from other points along the coast, are the Skelligs, one of the most spectacular sights in Ireland. Sculpted as if by the hand of God, the islands of Little Skellig, Great Skellig, and the Washerwoman's Rock are distinctively cone-shaped, surrounded by blue swirling seas. The largest island, the Great Skellig, or Skellig Michael, distinguished by its twin peaks and ancient monastic site, rises 700 feet from the Atlantic. During the journey to these islands you'll pass Little Skellig, the breeding ground of more than 22,000 pairs of gannets. Puffin Island, to the north, has a large population of shearwaters and storm petrel. Puffins nest in sand burrows on the Great Skellig in the month of May.

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