The Skelligs and Valentia Travel Guide

The Skelligs and Valentia

In the far northwestern corner of the Ring of Kerry, across Portmagee Channel, lies scenic Valentia Island, reached by leaving the Ring of Kerry on the R565 to Portmagee, then crossing the road bridge to the island. Valentia, where the eastern end of the first transatlantic telegraph cable was sited, is also known for its well-preserved tetrapod fossil trackways. Visible from Valentia, and on a clear day from Waterville and 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, Skellig Michael (or the Great Skellig), and the Washerwoman's Rock are distinctively cone-shape, surrounded by blue swirling seas. The largest island, 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 Skellig Michael in the month of May. Skellig Michael can be visited by boat, but it is an arduous journey that should be booked in advance and attempted in good weather. In spite of the Skelligs' increased fame following the last two Star Wars movies, visitor access is limited by law: consider a cruise around the islands, without landing, which provides some great photo ops, or if weather prohibits, opt for a visit to the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre instead.


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