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Displaying items by tag: Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael ferry operators are hoping that the UNESCO world heritage site may re-open to visitors from mid-June.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, the sixth-century monastic site off the Kerry coast was closed to all visitors last year due to Covid-19 health and safety considerations.

Donal McCrohan, chairman of the Skellig Boatmen’s Association, told The Times Ireland that the re-opening in June is “provisional”, but the 15 licensed operators are optimistic that visits will be permitted.

Last year’s closure by the Office of Public Works (OPW) was extended for the entire summer season after a serious rockfall last July near the guide accommodation – in which no one was injured.

The OPW has been reopening heritage and cultural sites this season under the Government’s road map, but has not made an announcement to date on Skellig Michael.

However, McCrohan said that the 15 licensed ferry operators running trips to the rock 12km off the Kerry coast were told at a meeting last Friday that mid-June was being examined..

McCrohan said he would be accepting provisional bookings for visits from later this week.

Ferry operator John O’Shea, who runs trips to and around Skellig Michael from Caherdaniel, Co Kerry, said that he and his colleagues had been told they would be given a more definite date by late May.

O’Shea said he is taking bookings from mid-June and will offer a refund for landing trips if the island is closed.

O’Shea is one of several operators who will still run “non-landing” trips around Skellig Michael and Little Skellig this season, which work out at half the cost of landing trips.

It is understood OPW staff have not been given any date as yet for return.

McCrohan said the logistics on visits had not been discussed in detail last week, but he said the boatmen’s association is preparing its own risk assessment for the sea trip and landing.

Last year, ferry operators had proposed a protocol that would involve checking passengers for symptoms, requiring use of face masks and reduced numbers to meet social distancing requirements.

However, the OPW believed the need for cleaning and sanitisation and social distancing on ferries in rough weather – and on the island - would prove too challenging.

The OPW was unable to comment.

Read The Times Ireland here

Published in Island News
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Skellig Michael will not be reopened to visitors this season due to concerns around the spread of coronavirus, the OPW has confirmed.

But as The Irish Times reports, the decision which followed a promised assessment after the island was closed in May has left local boat operators disappointed, but not surprised.

“There are a few operators doing sea angling trips but the landing trips [on to Skellig Michael] are the bread and butter for most of us,” said Donal McCrohan, chairman of the Skelligs Boatmen’s Association.

“We would have liked to get going ahead but it is what it and this is the outcome and I suppose we just have to look forward to 2021 and come back with a bang.”

Yesterday (Thursday 30 July) the OPW said it had taken the decision not to reopen the island off the Kerry coast due to the risks involved in both the boat passage to the island and visiting the island itself amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Unesco World Heritage site features prominently in the second instalment of the recent Star Wars film trilogy, which concluded in cinemas this past Christmas.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

Skellig Michael’s former site manager has expressed his misgivings around filming for the Star Wars movie franchise at the Unesco World Heritage site.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Grellan Rourke — who recently retired from his role after 41 years — gave a lecture at UCD where he discussed the challenges of maintaining the Co Kerry island, which is both an early Christian monastic site as well as an important sanctuary for marine wildlife.

Speaking on filming for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Rourke observed: “The whole thing was very professional but in a way, I think it is inappropriate to use a site like that for commercial filming.”

He also suggested that filmmakers could have digitally recreated the island and its surrounds without “putting anything in jeopardy”.

And he noted how the popularity of the films and demand for fans to visit the location has brought the island’s limited boat trips to full capacity — as well as changing the public perception of the place.

“It’s sad in one way, the real history of the place, over 1,400 years, that the real history is set to one side and the more recent make-believe is to the fore,” he said.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

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#StarWars - Tourism chiefs’ “cultural rebranding” of Skellig Michael on the back of its appearance in the new Star Wars film threatens to push visitor numbers to “unsustainable levels”, says An Taisce.

According to The Irish Times, Ireland’s national trust has urged new Culture Minister Josepha Madigan to review the impact of both filming activity and tourism at the UNESCO World Heritage site — and put a temporary halt on any future commercial filming on the Kerry coastal island.

The centrepiece of Tourism Ireland’s latest campaign for the Wild Atlantic Way, Skellig Michael has experienced a sharp rise in visitors since its link with the Star Wars movie franchise.

This has prompted concern in some quarters over the sustainability of an important heritage site and sanctuary for protected seabirds.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#StarWars - Tourism Ireland’s latest ad campaign for the Wild Atlantic Way has gone literally stratospheric, as RTÉ News reports.

Skellig Michael is front and centre in what Irish tourism chiefs are calling their ‘first space tourism campaign’, which saw a billboard sent more than 33km skywards on a weather balloon.

The brief clip aims to capitalise on the growing hype for the new Star Wars film The Last Jedi, in which the UNESCO World Heritage site features prominently.

It’s not the first time Tourism Ireland has pushed the Kerry coastal island as a destination for Star Wars fans, and visitor numbers have skyrocketed since it appeared at the end of the previous instalment in the film saga two years ago.

But The Last Jedi, which opens next week, is expected to boost interest in other parts of the Wild Atlantic Way, too, with various scenes shot in picturesque spots between Cork and Donegal.

Published in Island News

#SkelligMichael - Skellig Michael’s visitor season, which closes today (Tuesday 3 October), may be extended to cater for “exceptional” demand.

RTÉ News reports that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed it is reviewing a possible extension to the season, which currently runs from May to October each year.

Visitor numbers to the Co Kerry island have skyrocketed since its appearance in the new Star Wars film series.

Skellig Michael will be a central location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, opening in cinemas around the world in mid December.

The newfound popularity of ‘Star Wars Island’ has not come without controversy, however.

Figures show nearly 14,700 tourists landed on the island in 2016 — more than 10,000 over what’s considered sustainable in the approved management plan for the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Rockfalls and other winter storm damage delayed the opening of the 2017 visitor season by a number of days, while raising concerns about the impact of tourist landings on the vulnerable site.

Meanwhile, the length of the current landing season has been challenged by a boatman on the route, who took issue with the move of the opening date from the traditional 30 March to mid May.

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#SkelligMichael - Skellig Islands boatman Sean ‘Seanie’ Murphy has brought a High Court action over limits on the visitor season at Skellig Michael, as BreakingNews.ie reports.

Murphy claims the move by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to move the opening of the season from the traditional 30 March to mid May, when the island is staffed, has reduced the summer landing period by a third.

He also argues that the Transport Minister is not entitled to determine the length of the landing season, noting that the decision — apparently taken on health and safety advice from the National Monument Service, which staffs the island — was made without consultation with boatmen who ply the route to the island off the Kerry coast.

Poor weather postponed the opening of the island to visitors till this past Thursday 18 May, as RTÉ News reports, after earlier concerns that unstable rocks on the island would cause further delays.

Previously, another boatman challenged the loss of his landing permits at the Unesco World Heritage site that’s set for a tourism boom with its connections to the new Star Wars film series.

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#SkelligMichael - Skellig Michael’s opening for summer visitors on 14 May has been cast into doubt by concerns over of a number of unstable large rocks following a rockfall discovered earlier this month.

Safety contractors and OPW staff are currently assessing the situation at the Unesco World Heritage site, a major location in the upcoming blockbuster movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

But according to The Irish Times, the filming activity and increased visitor numbers are not to blame for the damage on what’s been dubbed ‘Star Wars Island’ — more likely caused by heavy winter storms and burrowing by the island’s rabbits.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, evidence of a “deeply worrying” rockfall was found during pre-season checks by OPW staff on Friday 7 April.

Published in Island News

#IslandNews - A serious rockfall on Skellig Michael has been described as “deeply worrying” by a senior conservationist.

RTÉ News reports that the rockfall was discovered during pre-season checks by OPW staff last Friday (7 April), close to accommodation huts on the Co Kerry island’s Lighthouse Road.

The Unesco World Heritage site is due to open for visitors next month, with big numbers expected in the wake of its featuring in the new Star Wars movies.

OPW senior conservation architect Grellan Rourke said that if some of the “very large” rocks had come down on top of the huts “there would have been a significant threat to anyone inside”.

Experts will examine the rock slopes in question, with no confirmation of whether this would affect Skellig Michael’s opening date for visitors.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

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#SkelligRing - The Skellig Ring in Co Kerry features in Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions for globetrotters to explore on 2017.

“Ireland’s most charismatically wild and emerald stretch of coastline,” as the popular travel guide’s Best in Travel report puts it, rounds out a list that includes such breathtaking destinations as French Polynesia, Chilean Patagonia, mountainous New Zealand and the Azores.

And unsurprisingly, the biggest draw to this corner of the Wild Atlantic Way is the majestic Skellig Michael, set for another bumper tourism year in 2017 on the back of its inclusion in the new Star Wars movie series.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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