It was a long wait for 2nd October to arrive.
Woken by an alarm clock that is not programmed to ring on a valuable weekend morning, the morning finally arrived when we were going to set off on the final leg of our trip to portmagee, and Skellig Michael. Having trekked all the way down from Dublin the night before, we reached Limerick just after 10pm. My parents insisted we have a drink in the kitchen with them; the warmth of the house always gathered in the kitchen first. I took a sip of a lukewarm beer and promised it would only be one bottle and then off to bed. We still had a 2.5 hour drive to Portmagee in the morning and a groggy head wasn’t going to get us there. Falling into bed at 1am, I sensed the inevitable hangover creeping its way to my head, ready to set up camp for the day. Chris found the OPW safety video and with absolute naiveté I perched on the arm of her chair and prepared to be bored. I knew little about the island and avoided doing any preparation for this trip whatsoever, in case the preparation ruined things. This decision proved correct. Thanks to the safety video, I started to prepare for inevitable death, tumbling off the side of the island into the cold and inhospitable Atlantic. Dragged under only to resurface in Nova Scotia, a warning to others to watch their footing and a new instalment in the safety video.
At 6am it was confirmed. I was indeed hungover. A bowl of salty porridge and a sip of coffee later, we bundled into the car for 2.5 hours of techno music and google directions. My companions seemed oblivious to the fogginess that hung before my eyes. Eoin was the captain of our vessel for the day, the Agnes Olibhear, and as we pulled up outside the Skellig Visitor Centre I wondered if our vessel had just spit out the small orange boat gently bobbing around the pier like a perky toddler at a wedding trying to find the rhythm. This was indeed going to be our boat for the day. Only 12 people fit on the Agnes Olibhear and every day Skellig Michael sees 180 people climb its rock face. From April to October only, the Great Skellig (Michael) welcomes visitors to its stony surface. Those who survive the boat trip are rewarded with views of another world as the Atlantic glistens and blankets of moss wrap themselves around towering sea crags. For a moment, I fell under its spell of beauty and solitude.
Mythical, ancient, daunting Skellig Michael was the perfect end to a summer of travels.