Lens-Artists Challenge #65 – Pick a Place: Skellig Michael

The highlight of my trip to Ireland in 2015 was a visit to the rugged island Skellig Michael.  I had wanted to visit for three reasons.

First, it is home to many species of birds, including Atlantic puffins, gannets, kittiwakes, and others.  I was able to add some cool species to my life list and get very close and personal with these birds that are not afraid of humans.  It was even puffin breeding season.

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Second, the island is historically and culturally important, being the home of ascetic Christian monks for several centuries.  They built the winding staircases up the rocks and also built stone dwellings.  It is now a UNESCO heritage site.

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Third, the island stood in for the Jedi refuge of Ahch-To in the new Star Wars films.  They had been filming there the year before I went, and even though the movie The Force Awakens hadn’t even come out yet, I was excited to visit a Star Wars filming location.  And I loved seeing and recognizing the footage of Skellig Michael on the big screen later.

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But in the end, the reason that Skellig Michael is most memorable to me is the mental journey I took to get there.  You can read the whole story of my trip here, but I will just say that I will always be proud that I was able to overcome my anxiety to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You can find more special places at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

Lens-Artists Challenge #48 – WILD

I can’t think of a place that better encapsulates the idea of “wild” than Skellig Michael, off the coast of Ireland.  It was once inhabited by ascetic monks and is now home to colonies of seabirds, like these puffins that have little fear of people.

You can find more wild things at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #33: Nature

One of the best parts about our Vagabond trip to Ireland was getting to see a lot of the country in its natural state.

The famous cliffs of Moher, a natural wonder that forms a “signature point” of the Wild Atlantic Way tourism route.

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Killarney National Park was the first national park in Ireland, created in 1932.  It hosts a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including the island’s last wild herd of red deer.

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We saw many places off the beaten path, including Skellig Michael, a nesting site for puffins and other sea birds.  These birds have very little fear of people and will get quite close to you.  Between the sea, the rocks, the wind, and the birds, on Skellig Michael you really feel close to nature in all its wild glory.  It’s no wonder the ascetic Irish monks were attracted to this place.

You can find more nature at the original Lens-Artist challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Awakening

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From Skellig Michael.

“There has been an awakening…”

So said the first teaser for The Force Awakens.  Skellig Michael appeared in the last minutes of that movie as Ahch-To, the refuge of hermit Luke Skywalker.  The island will be forever associated with Star Wars to me.  Here are some of the “Jedi Steps” that Rey climbs, and some of the puffins that became “porgs” in The Last Jedi.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Awakening

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered

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From Skellig Michael.

The cliff edges on the island of Skellig Michael are impressive layers of rock.  But look a little more closely, and you’ll also see rows upon rows of nesting seabirds, stacked in death-defying layers on tiny rock ledges.  In this picture you can see some guillemots (darker) and fulmars (lighter, look like gulls).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered