There’s been a lot written in 2015 about using Skellig Michael as a location for the latest “Star Wars” movie. A sample:
- New spotlight on ancient location
- Tourism Ireland braces for more visitors
- Birdwatch Ireland protests decision
The New York Times‘ Travel section featured a story about Skellig Michael, the ancient monastic island off the southwest coast of Kerry.
The place of prayer was inhabited by monks from AD 600 to 1200. Today, it is a UNESCO world heritage site that “illustrates the very spartan existence of the first Irish Christians. Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved.”
The Times’ writer says a motorized boat trip took an hour and three quarters to cover the nine miles of sea from the Kerry coast. About a dozen boats are authorized to make the crossing from spring through early fall, ferrying about 10,000 people annually. In September 1910, the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw described his trip in a letter to a friend.
Yesterday I left the Kerry coast in an open boat, 33 feet long, propelled by ten men on five oars. These men started on 49 strokes a minute, a rate which I did not believe they could keep up for five minutes. They kept it without slackening half a second for two hours, at the end of which they landed me on the most fantastic and impossible rock in the world.
Shaw famously described Skelling Michael as “an incredible, impossible, mad place … I tell you the thing does not belong to any world that you and I have lived and worked in: it is part of our dream world.”