The Moorings, Portmagee
Portmagee is the perfect place to base yourself to see the Skellig Ring and The Moorings is one of the most popular and welcoming places to stay.
There has never been a more exciting time to visit. The Skellig Ring has been ranked alongside some of the world’s most extraordinary travel destinations and named as one of Lonely Planet’s Top Ten Regions to visit in 2017.
This might have more than a little to do with its starring role in a little film franchise in the past few years. You may already recognise the otherworldly Skellig Micheal from Star Wars: The Force Awakens; it is set to repeat its star-turn later this year in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And it was here, at the Moorings, that the pre-production team plotted and planned plus in The Bridge Bar, Mark Hamill famously pulled a pint of Guinness.
Boat trips around the island of Skillig Micheal, with its dramatic natural beauty and ruined monastery, run from May to September (weather permitting) and advanced booking is essential with places highly sought after.
If real stars are your thing then the area that centres on Portmagee and Ballinskelligs is only the third place on the planet to be awarded a Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserve accolade. That means you would have to travel to Namibia or New Zealand to find a better place to see the Andromeda Galaxy.
As part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way it would be remiss not to indulge the sea one way or another. If your idea of fun is getting wet then you will be sure to enjoy the European Blue Flag beach at Ballinskelligs. The lifeguard manned beach hosts water-sports of all kinds and a surf school.
If your paddling days are behind you it is still possible to appreciate the power of the ocean by taking a trip to the 1000ft-high Kerry Cliffs. From here you get a front row seat of Puffin Island, home to huge colonies of seabird from puffins to Manx shearwater and storm petrels, all while enjoying a drink at the cliff-top cafe.
Valentia Island, just across the bridge from Portmagee, has plenty to occupy the curious tourist. The Heritage Centre, housed in a former school has exhibits on local heritage, including the role played by Kerry in the transatlantic telegraph, and natural history. Glanleam Gardens show off the mild-climate of the area with their sub-tropical flora at a former linen-mill. And Geokaun Mountain stands proudly as the highest point hereabouts; walk or drive up to see stunning 360° views across the Kerry Ring, out to sea, and up to the Dingle Peninsula.
With so much to recommend the Skellig Ring has been a hidden gem far too long. 2017 is set to be the year that its shine demands attention.