Included in the Ring is Skellig Michael, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site 20 years ago
Lonely Planet, one of the world’s leading travel guides, has selected Kerry’s Skellig Ring as one of its top 10 travel destinations for 2017. The Skellig Ring, which connects Valentia Island with Waterville by way of the Gaeltacht region at Ballinskelligs – as well as the UNESCO heritage site of the Skelligs themselves – is one of only three European destinations on the list, which ranks the best travel trends, destinations, and visitor experiences over the next 12 months.
Lonely Planet’s travel writers described the Skellig Ring, arguably less well known than the famous Ring of Kerry, as “perhaps Ireland’s most charismatically wild and emerald stretch of coastline.” Of the Skelligs, which have received much greater international interest since featuring at the end of last year’s Star Wars film The Force Awakens, Lonely Planet described them as a “remote, wave-pounded hunk of rock rising out of the Atlantic like a giant triangle.”
Among the attractions on the Skellig Ring that Lonely Planet recommends are Ireland’s first Dark Sky Reserve, where sights of star constellations are improved by limiting the exposure to ambient light, the Coomanaspic Pass, and Skelligs Chocolate Factory, situated on St Finian’s Bay. The guidebook also suggests paying a visit to The Moorings pub in Portmagee, where Star Wars star Mark Hamill, best known for playing Luke Skywalker and lending his voice to the animated version of Batman’s nemesis The Joker, was known to enjoy a pint of Guinness.
Founded in the 6th Century, Sceilg Mhichíl is a unique monastic settlement that was typically home to groups of 12 monks and an abbot who continuously occupied the site until the 12th or 13th centuries. When weather conditions made the Skelligs more exposed to Atlantic storm, along with changes to the structures of the Irish Church, the monastery was abandoned and the monks moved inland to an abbey in Ballinskelligs.
In 1996, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee listed the Skelligs as an official World Heritage Site, citing the Skelligs’ “exceptional universal value” and “remarkable environment.”
The full list of Lonely Planet’s Top-10 regions for 2017 reads as follows: