The Skellig Experience – Celebrating 30 Years
The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre first opened its doors to the public on April 12th 1992. The Visitor Centre was developed by Cork/Kerry Tourism with the help of locals Des and Pat Lavelle. The aim of the project was to allow visitors to experience Skellig Michael on dry land. Bad weather meant cruising out to Skellig Michael proved difficult at times. The Visitor Centre was officially opened by the former Irish president Mary Robinson. On its opening day he visitor centre welcomed the King and Queen of Sweden. Shortly after its opening, The Skellig Experience welcomed the arrival of “The Fionan of Skelligs”, a 150 seater vessel which was used to take visitors out to experience up-close views of the Skellig Islands.
Celebrating 30 Years
For the past 30 years The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre has welcomed visitors from all over the world! It allows visitors discover the incredible story of the Skellig Islands through their interpretive centre and Film Show. There is a fully licensed restaurant onsite that caters for up to 100 people indoors. The centre boasts a beautiful outdoor dining area which opened in July 2021 and overlooks the Portmagee Harbour. The Visitor Centre also includes a gift shop onsite with a wide range of books, music, clothing and souvenirs to offer.
John O’Sullivan, Managing Director of the Skellig Experience has been a part of the team since the very beginning. Reflecting on the last 30 years in business John said:
“I started work in The Skellig Experience during the first week of April 1992 not knowing what to expect but never thought that 30 years on I would still be here. With different customers everyday no two days are the same so every morning I know there will be unexpected challenges in the hours ahead but that’s what makes the centre and the job so vibrant and alive.”
John met his wife Kathleen O’Shea in the Visitor Centre in 1992 and they celebrated their 25th wedding Anniversary in October 2021. Seeing first-hand the amazing experience the Visitor Centre has to offer its visitors the couple, along with Kathleen’s sister Bridget O’Shea decided to take over the management of The Skellig Experience in 2012. Since then they have expanded the restaurant to accommodate the large volume of coach tourism they welcome annually.
The visitor centre offers cruises around the Skellig Islands. This provides visitors the opportunity to experience these mystical islands up-close. Witness the incredible birdlife that is present on Sceilig Beag. The Skellig Experience also offers Skellig Michael Landing Trips on the Atlantic Endeavor. This allows visitors to climb the 618 stone staircase to the very top of Skellig Michael. Visitors can then explore the monastery and beehive huts that sit on the islands peak. Cruises have began from the Visitor Centre this season and Skellig Michael Landing Tours will begin departing in May.
The filming of the Star Wars film franchise on Skellig Michael created a huge tourism boost for the area. The Skellig Experience welcomed its highest volume of visitors ever record in 2018! 2019 proved to be another very successful year.
The Skellig Experience Team
The Skellig Experience team are particularly excited for the year ahead and look forward to welcoming international visitors through the door once again in what looks to be a very busy season. Speaking about the year ahead John noted:
“The Skellig Experience has welcomed visitors from all over the world since it first opened in 1992. We have a tremendous team of staff, some of whom have been here for almost 20 years. Their enthusiasm and friendly manner ensures that each visitor is met with a warm welcome and provided with a memorable experience. We are very grateful to all our past and present employees for their continuous hard work and dedication over the years.”
2022 is already shaping up to be a very busy season for The Skellig Experience and the surrounding Skellig Coast.
For more information on our visitor centre please click here.