Skellig Experience - Valentia Island
Skellig Experience Centre offers visitors the opportunity to discover and learn about the numerous aspects of the offshore Skelllig Islands without having to leave the mainland, the islands are located about eight miles off the mainland. The award winning and distinctive building has a modern design using local and traditional sources so that it blends into the natural surrounding landscape and provides a feel of the ruggedeness of the region. It can be found situated right on the waterfront adjacent to the Valentia Island Bridge in County Kerry.
The heritage centre is superbly informative and narrates the tale of the Skellig rocks and its unique treasures, casting light on the history of these renowned islands off the coast of Ireland. Although a small museum, it contain a lot of information that is well laid out in its compact space. There are four themes included in the exhibition and provides a wonderful introduction to Skellig Michael, a bare craggy mass of rock that protrudes out of the Atlantic. It is the ideal stop for those wanting to know and get a feel about the islands without actually visiting them.
The first topic covered is the history and archaeology of Skellig Michael's Early Christian monastery dating back more than 1400 years. A small group of men made this isolated and rugged landscape home and created some remarkable structures that are still evident today, and provide a unique insight into their way of life here in this beautiful but remote location.
Next are the sea birds who are a fundamental part of the Skelligs, it looks into their habitat in the craggy cliffs and their wide travels around the world. It also looks at other species of wildlife that have made their homes here.
The lighthouse dates back to the 1820's and has stood here proving security to the mariners for more than one hundred and sixty years. Vistors can enter the reconstructed lighthouse and see all of the equipment, artefacts, log books and much more. Also covered are some of the ship wrecks around the islands.
Lastly but not of any less importance is the underwater Skellig, the waters surrounding the islands are home to an abundance of colourful marine life.
The different themes are explored through interesting exhibitions including, graphics, models, exhibition items, artefacts and recreated lighthouse keeper ship-to-shore communication, emphasised by sounds of sea birds. There is a short film presentation that provides an insight into the mystical and alluring Skellig Michael, very interesting and informative.
The visitor entre is also home to a craft shop selling a lovely selection of gifts and sounvenirs, as well as a delightful cafe with lovely sea views where visitors can enjoy a nice selection of delicious snacks and light lunches, whilst taking in the beautiful surroundings.
Skellig Experience is open from March to mid November. At certain times of the year and weather permitting visitors can take guided tours to Skellig Michael. The scenery and views are absolutely gorgeous here.