Skellig Michael to reopen to visitors after prolonged closure

Poor weather delayed start of tourist season on Kerry island where Star Wars was filmed

The monastic settlement on Skellig Michael off the coast of Co Kerry

The monastic settlement on Skellig Michael off the coast of Co Kerry

 

Skellig Michael will be open to visitors from this Friday, following prolonged closure during recent spells of poor weather, the Office for Public Works (OPW) has announced.

The OPW said that visitors will be able to land at the Unesco world heritage site, which has enjoyed global fame since being featured in three recent instalments of the Star Wars film franchise.

The site off the Co Kerry coast was home to a monastic community from at least the eighth century, but was abandoned in the 13th century. Visitor numbers at Skellig Michael have increased significantly in recent years, from 12,560 in 2015 to 16,755 in 2017. By mid-May of last year, 7,000 people had landed on the site in 2018 alone.

The increased tourist trade has supported a host of businesses in the region, from the ferry companies which service the site to the hospitality trade, which has made much of the region’s connections to the Star Wars movies.

Boat trips to land visitors on the island can cost between €85 and €100 for the 45 minute journey.

However, national trust body An Taisce has expressed concerns about the rise in visitor numbers, which it says are in excess of a management plan for Skellig Michael presented to Unesco in 2008. The sustainable number of visitors for the site is considered to be 11,100.

The site will now remain open until September 30th, after which it will formally close for the season until 2020. Visitors are reminded that the site can be very challenging and a visit does not come without risk.