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Medium View Of Skelligs From Coomanaspic Discovery Point Co Kerry 4

A Guide to Skellig Michael

Whether you’re a native of the west coast of Ireland, a Star Wars fan, interested in stunning natural locations or just a fan of all things Irish, chances are you’ve heard of or seen Skellig Michael. 

If not, then take a look at this before reading on…

Skellig Michael

What is Skellig Michael?

Skellig Michael, sometimes used as a catchall name to refer to the Skellig Islands, is the larger of the two islands sitting alongside Little Skellig. The entire site, including both islands, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site as of 1996. 

The island is sometimes also known as Great Skellig and sits approximately 8 miles off the coast of southwest County Kerry, near the village of Portmagee, along the west coast of Ireland.

Despite incredible beauty the island is probably best known as the home to a 6-8th century early Christian settlement featuring six beehive stone huts, two oratories, a medieval church and stone slabs and crosses. It’s said the settlement was founded by Saint Fionan and it was used until approximately the 12-13th centuries before eventually being abandoned. Research also suggests that the settlement was only ever home to a maximum of 12 monks and that, due to location, they survived mainly on a diet of fresh fish and eggs!

Alongside the beauty and religious significance the islands are also a designated Important Bird Area and home to protected species including the Gannet, Guillemot, Puffin and Storm Petrel. Little Skellig, completely inaccessible to the public, is said to be home to over 30,000 Gannets!

Skellig Michael is known as a natural wonder and aesthetic beauty and was once described by George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, as an “incredible, impossible, mad place”. 

Where is Skellig Michael Located?

Skellig Michael is located approximately 8 miles off mainland Irish coastline in the southwest area of the country. 

Technically it sits within County Kerry and the nearest village to the landmark is Portmagee.

Can You Visit Skellig Michael?


Numerous boat tours and day trips run to Skellig Michael from the nearest ports and villages. These tours generally run from May to September/October in line with the tourist season and also better, brighter weather conditions.

Please be aware that it’s advised to book tours well in advance due to popularity. You should also be aware that tours can be cancelled or called off due to adverse weather conditions. It is Ireland after all!

Tour operators take the weather conditions very seriously as choppy waters, high winds and poor visibility, amongst other things, can create dangerous situations so they have everyone’s safety as top priority! 

What does Skellig Michael mean?

Skellig comes from Gaelic and, loosely translated, means “rock in the sea” and Michael is due to the location being named after, and dedicated to, Saint Michael, the patron saint of warriors, the sick and the suffering. 

Medium Ireland Little Skellig Seen From Skellig Michael Remainings Monastry Cdiederik 06543

How many steps is Skellig Michael?

Skellig Michael has over 600 steps as you walk and make your way to the top of the island! 

With that in mind it’s advised that only those who are fit, healthy and capable of rigorous walking and hiking visit the island with the intention of climbing to the top.

If that isn’t you don’t worry or feel bad, some of the best views of the Skellig Islands come from the coast on the mainland! 

Where is Skellig Michael in Star Wars?

A true Star Wars fan wouldn’t ask this question! 

Only joking… If you hadn’t noticed, Skellig Michael appears in the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the remains of the Skellig Michael monastery can also be seen briefly in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The Star Wars cast and crew set up to film during summer 2015 and locals of the area tell tales of a cast and crew who definitely enjoyed their pints of Guinness during the downtime. Just what we like to hear!


Ready to head straight to County Kerry and take in the sights? Great!

We know the Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s Causeway and Guinness Storehouse all attract the biggest crowds (and rightly so) but Skellig Michael is truly a sight to behold. 

So, whether you’re planning a big trip to Ireland or are local to the area in search of new ideas, add it to your list!

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