The Skelligs and Minard Castle

It was another beautiful morning!  We had planned to do a landing tour on Skellig Michael on this day; however, the OPW had decided that the site was not ready for visitors until TOMORROW!  On my first and only previous trip to the Skelligs, it was so misty we couldn’t see them until right before we landed. This time we could see all around us for miles!  

Skellig Michael is a pinnacle of an island 7.5 miles out from the Iveragh Peninsula.  Between the 6th and 9th Centuries a monastery was founded there.  Atop the rock are amazing beehive huts made from stone in such a way to withstand wind and rain for hundreds of years. Bill and I had done the landing trip on our trip to Ireland back in 2009.  It was really a “peak” experience.  Skellig Michael is now famous as being one of the filming sites for the Star Wars franchise. 

Since we could not do the landing, we opted to take a tour around the islands in a fishing boat equipped for only 12 people.  I had obtained some motion sickness patches that we’d all applied the night before and we were good as gold.  Once on the boat the captain pointed out where the life jackets were stowed in the event they were needed.  Hopefully, if one of those boats ever go down, they sink slow enough that everyone can get a lifejacket!

It really was a fun, wet, and rolling ride out and we had a lovely turn around Skellig Michael.  We saw things that I never saw on the landing tour; the lighthouse, other landing sites utilized by the monks and the stairways to the top of the island. It was extremely nice.  

From there we toured around Little Skellig that is known for being a large breeding grounds for gannets.  In fact, much of the island appears to be white but it is actually a combination of gannets and gannet poop!  We also enjoyed watching a seal colony at the base of Little Skellig.  We were about to turn back to the harbor when the captain advised his mate Jamie, that there was a “little trouble with the steering”.  That was interesting since we were headed right in the direction of Little Skellig. 

The men hopped down into the hull of the boat and tinkered long enough to determine we needed an alternative steering mechanism.  They certainly came equipped for that possibility.  Jamie attached a long metal rod to the steerage and had to steer us back into the harbor from the back of the boat!  It was pretty remarkable.  We truly enjoyed ourselves and though the kids were disappointed we did not get to climb to the top of Michael Skellig, they were all grateful for having had the boat tour.

We grabbed something warm to eat at the Bridge Bar across the street and headed off up the northern side of the Iveragh, along the Rink of Kerry route to reach the Dingle Peninsula.  The kids were dozing when I decided to drive down to Inch Strand located just onto the Dingle Peninsula.  I could see all kinds of vehicles there but apparently, they knew where to drive and where not to drive.  I did not possess that knowledge.  I thought I would surprise them all when they woke up from their naps to a beautiful stretch of beach.  Instead, I horrified them by getting the car stuck in the sand.  (Every once in a while I seem to toss a tiny little hand grenade into the trip to see what shakes out.)  The boys had to push until the car was on the packed sand.  Whew!  They all wandered the beach for a while after that while I took a breather in the car.  Crisis averted.

I had heard about castle ruins on the Dingle that I had never visited and thought it would be an easy excursion for us prior to checking in at our B&B.  Minard Castle isn’t particularly easy to find but with a little help from my phone GPS (Google Maps) we arrived.  Minard Castle is one of many trashed by Cromwell back in 1650.  The structure is considered unsound and is on private land so one can only look and admire; no scampering allowed! The kids headed over the large boulders to the beach while I hiked up the road behind the castle. I’d read that there was a little magic back there but wanted to be sure before dragging the kids on yet another hike.  Sure enough, I found what I was looking for and headed back to get them.

Taylor and Seana were as far away as they could be exploring a section of the beach that appeared to pop into a little cave.  Keenan was coming back from exploring different views of the castle.  I gave him the heads up and walked to join Seana and Taylor.  Once we were all on the road we walked up a medium incline to a stone sign written entirely in Gaelic.  Translated it reads, “St. John the Baptist Well”.   After lifting the latch to the gate, the trail winds a short distance down to what is referred to as a holy well and also a rag tree.  People tied a bit of cloth to a rag tree, usually to request healing from an ailment for self or others.  Another unique spot for all of us to enjoy.

From Minard Caste we found our way into Dingle and our accommodations at Murphy’s B&B, located next door to Murphy’s Pub (no relation).  After a short bit of rest, we headed out in search of food and refreshment.  We stopped next door at Murphy’s pub and were permitted to sit at a table, but only for a short time since the table had been reserved.  We enjoyed some Irish- and Bailey’s-coffees before we strolled up the street to Dick Mack’s pub.

Dick Mack’s is one of my all-time favorites.  It is a favorite for tourists but also the locals.  It was pretty packed initially; however, eventually we had a space in which to sit. 

I love the atmosphere here as well as the tidy ladies nook in the corner.  That was a place where single women could go to enjoy a drink without harassment from the fellows .  It was also know as a place where one could pick up a pair of “wellies” (rubber boots) though I doubt any have been sold from that location for close to an eternity!

Recognizing the need for nourishment we stepped into Gleaners where Keenan ordered pizza (I warned him), Seana got some mushroom ravioli, Taylor a burger; and me, the strangest order of fish and chips ever!  Yuck.  We have finally appreciated not-so-fine dining!  We took a stroll down the street. My sons insisted this was the way back to the B&B.  I knew it was not but why not let them figure it out?  Once we were seated inside I realized that I had squeezed all the fun I possible could out of this day and was ready to call it quits.  I made my way back to my bed.

We are supposed to have bad weather tomorrow.  “Good day to sleep in!” says I.

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