Monday, January 4, 2016

STAR WAR'S SKELLIG



                                                                           



I wrote about my 2013 visit to Skellig Michael here.   I don't know if plans were already in motion to use this 6th century site for the new movie but if so I had no knowledge of it.   When I heard of this plan, I wondered how it would work.   This island is about 11 kilometres off Ireland's Atlantic coast and about a half hour's rough ride on a fishing boat which was the only way to access the location.   There was a helicopter landing pad on the small island but I understood that this was for private use by authorized and official visitors.   Interestingly, no charge was made to visit the island although we paid $50 each to the fishing  boat captain who provided transport only; no food, drink or anecdotes.

I have read that after a couple of incidents where tourists were injured or killed, guides on the island were put in place and a mandatory twenty minute talk about the island and warnings of the dangers and difficulty in accessing of the main top part where the stone beehive homes were located.  Six hundred slippery steps must be ascended.   There is a daily limit on how many visitors can come each day; something like 200, I believe, and going there is also dependent on the weather.    The slate stone steps were the original ones placed by medieval monks and the small area at the top of the island was fragile.    There wasn't really much supervision or restriction on walking around the area.

I suppose more people will now hear of the spot and more will want to visit.   I suspect  that Skellig Michael may follow in the footsteps of Stonehenge, which now has a boardwalk that visitors traverse around the circumference of the enormous stones at a fair distance away.   I've also heard that Machu Pichu, which has a limit of 400 people a day and is similarly overwhelmed with visitors, plans to phase out access in the next few years in an attempt to preserve the Heritage site.




                                                                          

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