Just over a month ago I was invited back to extended touring by Trafalgar, who I used to work for full-time, and accepted a couple of tours to Ireland, where I had not been for two years. We had a great time (at least, I did) on both tours, staying in and visiting some familiar places and some new ones (see previous two posts). I am writing this at Dublin airport before heading home to sleep in my own bed tonight, which will be a nice change.
One place I did not manage to get to, however, was SCELLIG MICHAEL, sometimes called Great Scellig, which lies off the western coast of Kerry and once held a monastery where learning was kept alive by the monks who lived there while Britain was plunged into the Dark Ages. It is only a small exaggeration to say that we relied on the monks who lived on that isolated island for the survival of civilisation and it is mentioned in the opening chapter of Kenneth Clark’s famous book and television series Civilisation.
Civilisation was again saved on Scellig recently, albeit in a fictitious way when it became the home of Luke Skywalker inThe Last Jedi the latest Star Wars film which came out last year. (I am not counting the Han Solo spin off, which has been a rare flop for the series.) The heroine Rey goes there to persuade Luke to join the battle to fight the evil empire and – spoiler alert – the good guys defeat the Dark Side by the end.
The area got a major boost to its economy when the crew arrived for filming a couple of years ago and, by all accounts left it in as good a condition as they found it (not always the case with film makers). After the film was released, they have been inundated with Star Wars fans and prestige tourists who like to visit unusual out of the way places. I was hoping to join them on a day of between tours and some gain some prestige of my own with my daughter, who is a fan of the franchise, but both the logistics of crossing Ireland and its recent popularity meant that I could not book onto a boat trip there – and swimming out was not an option.
You can usually see both Scellig islands from the Kommakista Pass on the Ring of Kerry but on the first tour the view was killed by clouds. Then Ireland went into an unusual heat wave and we had a glorious view on the second tour. I took a photo of the islands from the Scarrif Inn, where we stopped for lunch, but was unable to visit. That remains one for the bucket list.