Skellig Michael tourist season delayed due to bad conditions

Poor weather means safety works will not be complete in time for Saturday opening

Skellig Michael off the coast of Co Kerry. Photograph: Getty

Skellig Michael off the coast of Co Kerry. Photograph: Getty

 

The opening of Skellig Michael to visitors this year has been deferred due to recent bad weather and sea conditions off the southwest coast.

It was scheduled to open to visitors for the 2019 season on Saturday, May 18th. However, the Office of Public Works said the decision was taken to defer the opening date last Friday when “it became apparent that further poor weather in the next few days will make access impossible, meaning that necessary pre-season safety works cannot be completed on time”.

The OPW said it had been “severely hampered” in accessing the island over the past few weeks in order to complete the required safety and site preparation works.

“Owing to poor weather and sea conditions right throughout March, April and early May, we have only been able to land our works team on the island very briefly to date,” an OPW spokesman said. “Normally, we need approximately two to three weeks to check Skellig Michael for winter storm damage, clear away any debris, provision staff quarters and prepare all visitor areas and the Monastic Monument for the public. However, pre-season access this year has been very problematic, and we now have a significant backlog of work to deal with.”

Efforts ‘frustrated’

The OPW said workmen were able to access the island for a number of days late last week and worked over the weekend to make the necessary preparations. However, with poor sea conditions forecast for the next few days, the OPW said workmen had been “frustrated” in their efforts to go back to the island.

OPW officials say as soon as a new opening date has been confirmed, a further announcement will be made.

“We apologise for the disruption this will inevitably cause to some visitors,” the OPW spokesman added. “However, Skellig Michael is an extremely challenging environment, and the safety of our visitors must remain a priority. We are working as rapidly as the conditions allow and will hope to announce a new date as soon as possible, once the current spell of poor weather has passed and the necessary safety preparations are fully completed.”