Celebrating 30 Years in Business
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 as bad weather meant cruising out to Skellig Michael proved difficult. The Visitor Centre was officially opened by the former president Mary Robinson and welcomed the King and Queen of Sweden on its opening day. 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.
For the past 30 years The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre has welcomed visitors from all over the world and allowed them to 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 with the added option of enjoying a meal in the new outdoor dining area which we opened in July 2021 and overlooks the beautiful fishing village of Portmagee. 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 Visitor Centre 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 allowing visitors the chance to experience these mystical islands up-close and witnessing the incredible birdlife that is present on Sceilig Beag. The Skellig Experience also offers Skellig Michael Landing Trips on the Atlantic Endeavor which allows visitors to climb the 618 steps to the very top of Skellig Michael and explore the monastery and beehive huts that sit on the peak of the island. Cruises have already began departing from the Visitor Centre this season and The Skellig Michael Landing Tours will begin departing on May 14th.
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 and 2019 proved to be another very successful.
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 and they’re enthusiasm and friendly manner ensures that each visitor is met with a warm welcome and provided with a memorable experience throughout their visit. We are very grateful to all our past and present staff members for their continuous hard work and dedication over the years.”
2022 is already shaping up to be a very busy season ahead for The Skellig Experience and the surrounding Skellig Coast region.