Skellig Micheal – rock solid amid star wars


Sir, – I lived and worked on Skellig Michael as a guide for the OPW. It was a privilege and an unforgettable experience.

I’ve memories of no electricity, no running water, stranded on the island in the event of a storm, catching fish for dinner and swimming off the pier after the last tourist boat departed.

At the time, 20 years ago, I didn’t realise I was living on a future film set, but for all the “preciousness” around the site now – here are a few home truths . It’s not made of glass; it’s been there since the sixth century and has survived all this time. It is naturally protected from the hordes of Star Wars fans by its position – until they invent an easier, less sea-sick inducing way of getting there, the Atlantic is a natural deterrent (Paddy Bushe, December 20th and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi review”, Donald Clarke, December 12th).

For many years when I told people I had worked there, they looked at me askance, having never heard of it. Here was this UNESCO World Heritage site, one of only three in Ireland, lurking just off the famous Ring of Kerry and nobody knew about it. Well, they know now. Thank you Star Wars – for blasting this rock to stardom.

We should be proud of our Star Wars island. Protect it, by all means, but please let’s be less precious. It has a lighthouse and a helipad. For years and years, “archaeology” has been ongoing there; “conservation” and “preservation” too – but what are these concepts – only damage by another name. Digging, rebuilding, moving, reshaping – this is far and away more “dangerous” to the site than some clumsy tourists with oversized cameras.

Skellig Michael sits on a nautical highway that has seen seafaring monks, invading marauders, pirates, plane crashes, warships and now . . . a movie. It can handle it. – Yours, etc,


Donnybrook Dublin 4.