The Skellig Ring area is wild and beautiful, with the ragged outline of Skellig Michael never far from view. This dramatic island housed a remote monastery between the 6th and 12th centuries and is now an important site for puffins, gannets and guillemots.To preserve the fragile remains of the monastery, there are only a limited number of people who can visit each day. Those tours are expensive and sellout months in advance, and whether you get sun or lashing rain, doesn't matter. If you are lucky enough to get a ticket, you go. One reason it is such a popular place is not only because of the monastery, but because the island served as a location in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In fact, that probably drives more tourism than anything, but either way, the island and the views from the mainland are absolutely stunning.
But wait, our first stop was at the Skellig’s Chocolate factory!
Steven put his phone up to the high power binoculars for this closeup of Skellig Michael.
There are exquisite views everywhere you look. We were fortunate to have beautiful weather.
Keeping a foot close to the brakes. The uphill part behind us was the biggest challenge.
Yes, this sign is accurate. The hill was steep!
Beautiful views from some of Kerry’s dramatic cliffs on the Skellig Ring.
This is a replica of the dry stone structures found on Skellig Michael. The birds are fake, but you get the idea.
Since we had been to the most northwesterly point of Ireland, Steven felt it only proper that we also visit the most southwesterly point, and a discovery point along the WAW. It's not easy to get to, there are mountains to cross and skinny roads to navigate, but by now, we had gotten used to that. After a quiet overnight in Sneem, we began our trek south. Outside of the towns there was little traffic to speak of, but once we reached the parking lot of Mizen Head Signal Station, there were a fair number of folks visiting. We could have spent the night there in the parking lot, but there is something kind of creepy about remote places overlooking the ocean when we're all alone. I might have done it if we had been traveling with others, but not just us. I could never have been a lighthouse keeper, I'd be the one who goes crazy and kills everyone else. I mean, I'm just guessing, but it feels possible. I'd want to get all them before they got me. Has anyone seen the movie yet? Steven can't wait to see it but I'm gonna give it a skip.
Mizen Head signal station.
More cliff views on the trek out to the signal station.
We left Mizen Head and made our way to Skibbereen, one of the areas hardest hit by the Great Famine from 1845 to 1852. It is believed there are nearly 10,000 people buried in the nearby famine burial pits, which just seems unimaginable. Those who could leave did, but many died on the ships. We spent a good bit of time at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre, a sobering visit indeed. Later in the day, with permission from the manager, we parked up in the Lidl parking lot directly facing into the store. We watched folks shop until it closed at 10 p.m., and then we were locked in until morning. Not my favorite overnight, but a safe enough stop and grocery shopping was easy as pie!
At this point in our journey we had been on the Wild Atlantic Way for five weeks. We had seen countless discovery points and visited numerous sites along the way. It had been a wonderful and inspiring trip, but we were tired and ready to be done. We made our way to the Blarney Caravan and Camping Park and settled in. We had one more stop on the WAW to visit, and for this we got a rental car. Even though I had driven nearly the whole of the Ireland coast by now, I had not yet driven a vehicle with the steering wheel on the right hand side. It was different, but I eventually got the hang of it. And with that, we were on our way to Kinsale, the final stop on the Wild Atlantic Way. Here, we celebrated with a lovely lunch and a walk through the picturesque village. It was a wonderful ending to a memorable trip.
Lovely waterfront views in Kinsale.
We took the advice of the above sign and had a yummy bowl of mussels.
We were booked into the campground for six nights, and would then make our way back to where we started our trip in July, as we disembarked from the ferry at the Rosslare terminal. The day before we left, however, we eagerly awaited the arrival of our friends Jim and Diana Belisle. They had rented a motorhome in the U.K. for a month and were doing a whirlwind tour of Ireland. We rejiggered our plans a bit so we could meet up with them in Cork. We had less than a day together, but we made the most of it, visiting the White Start Line exhibit in Cobh and taking a tour of the Jameson distillery in Middleton. Afterward we enjoyed a lovely dinner and finished off our evening with a shot of Slane Irish Whiskey. What could be better?
Hello Jim and Diana!
We had a lot of fun at the White Star Line Museum and the tour guide made it really interesting.
With Jim and Diana at the Jameson Distillery.
We waved goodbye to Jim and Diana the following morning. It was awfully nice to see their familiar faces and we wished we had more time. But, they had to go and we had a ferry to catch, so we returned our rental car and made our way to Rosslare harbor. We boarded the ferry and made our way to our cabin, yes, we got a cabin! We had learned our lesson on the trip over and we now know we have to book early to get accommodations! We were assigned a four-berth room, but we were the only ones in it. We were half expecting two other folks to join us, but maybe we paid for all four bunks. Who knows, but either way, we were happy to have a bed! The overnight trip was really rough, banging seas and lots of creaking noises. Despite being a Pisces, I am not really fond of being on or in water, so when we finally landed in Cherbourg, France, I was a very happy camper!
One last Guinness before we leave the Oul’ Sod.
On the ferry once again but this time looking forward to a cabin.
Parked up for one night in Cherbourg!
We spent our first night back in France at an aire just one street over from our ferry terminal. God bless the French, they sure love motorhomers!
UP NEXT: Mont Saint Michel