Connect with us


Disappointment as Skellig Michael to remain closed



The Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed that the Skellig Michael World Heritage Site will remain closed and not open to visitors in 2020 because of COVID–19 concerns and the consequent risks to both staff and visitors.

The OPW had undertaken, following the original closure decision in early May, to review the position in the light of changing circumstances and where the Government had announced a relaxation of certain measures designed to reopen tourism attractions in particular. Having consulted with a number of parties both inside the OPW’s Heritage Service and externally, officials yesterday (Thursday) announced that it would not be feasible to open the famous island site for the remainder of the scheduled visitor season as the risks involved in both the boat voyage and the visitor experience on the island itself cannot be addressed sufficiently to guarantee the safety of both visitors and OPW staff.

“Opening of this important heritage site had originally been scheduled to take place on May 15, but that was obviously cancelled during the height of the lockdown," OPW Heritage Commissioner John Mc Mahon said. "What we are announcing this week is the result of our own internal review which was designed to see if things had changed sufficiently for us to perhaps announce a late season and allow public visits during part of August and September at least. Having considered all the issues however, we have arrived at the conclusion that this is not feasible and Skellig Michael cannot be made safe from COVID-19 for either visitors or staff. Regretfully therefore, we have to confirm that the Skellig Michael site will not reopen for the remainder of the 2020 season and we must instead plan for a resumption in 2021, when we will hopefully be able to accommodate visitors at the site again.”

Normally, the Skellig Michael visitor season finishes at the end of September with experience showing that weather and sea conditions in October are considerably poorer and the site becomes generally inaccessible. The OPW has assessed however that there are multiple risks both in terms of the boat trip and the visitor path on the island itself and it is not feasible to reopen for even a limited period in August and September. Before reaching their decision, OPW consulted with local boatmen who are responsible for bringing visitors to the island and investigated with them the possible changes that might be made in order to make the visitor experience safer. However, it was clear that the scale of the challenge was such that the proposition was not feasible and the original decision to close for the entire season was reconfirmed. OPW workmen continue to remain on the island to carry out essential maintenance and other works on the island and its monuments. They will continue to travel to the island until the end of September to carry out their normal programme of works.


[caption id="attachment_25257" align="alignleft" width="200"] Councillor Michael Cahill[/caption]

Kerry, and South Kerry in particular, is reeling from this latest decision to not allow visitors onto Skellig Michael for the remainder of the season says Councillor Michael Cahill.

“The refusal to allow the reopening of Skellig Michael to visitors this year is a ferocious blow to the local economy on top of everything else that has occurred. This is the sole source of income for many boatmen in the locality. Not alone that but the whole local economy is geared towards providing services to those who are drawn to the area to visit this iconic monastic settlement.”

He said that everyone understands the pandemic restrictions but it’s like attending football games etc., the boat trip takes place in the open air and with proper distancing and the wearing of face masks, should be as safe if not safer than attending a supermarket or restaurant.

“I am disappointed for all those whose livelihoods are so heavily affected and worry greatly about the knock-on affects,” he added.


The Skellig Experience Centre, located in Portmagee, is also a significant destination for visitors locally and is currently open. Additionally, local boat sightseeing trips continue to be available and are dealing with visitors currently.

Continue Reading


Developing St Finan’s “cost prohibitive” – Council

Converting the idle St Finan’s hospital into social housing is cost-prohibitive according to Kerry County council officials. The historic building has been lying idle since it closed in September 2012. […]




Converting the idle St Finan’s hospital into social housing is cost-prohibitive according to Kerry County council officials.

The historic building has been lying idle since it closed in September 2012.

The hospital and adjoining lands are up for sale by the Health Service Executive (HSE) since then.

So far no realistic offer has been made on the site despite suggestions that it could be used for social housing, a catering college and a hotel.

Each year the building, which was built in the 1850s, falls into further disrepair.

There were fresh calls again this week as local councillors called for some sort of action to redevelop the site that is fast becoming an eyesore.

At last Friday’s Killarney Municipal District meeting councillors called for action at the site .

Mayor Brendan Cronin wants the building’s protected status to be removed or at least reduced to speed up potential development work which ties in with Cllr Marie Moloney’s idea that the old hospital could be converted into apartments or flats.

Cllr John O’Donoghue wants the HSE to find a way to hand over the property to Kerry County Council either by way of reduced payment or an intra-government agency ownership change.

A Kerry County Council official told the meeting that any works to potentially convert the old hospital into social housing “would be cost prohibitive.”


Continue Reading


Eight month wait for a driving test in Killarney

A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at […]




A Killarney councillor is calling for action in an effort to reduce the driving test wait list in Killarney

The current wait list for a test in Killarney sits at eight months.

Cllr John O’Donoghue raised the issue at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council.

He proposed that driving instructors should be employed to carry out the final test to reduce the current backlog.

At Monday’s meeting he asked that hat Kerry County Council would write to the Minister for Transport to ask him to consider giving driving instructors temporary powers to issue a temporary Driving Licence/Certificate of Competence to those on the waiting list for tests.

“The wait is currently far too long and the system is in danger of becoming completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“The huge waiting list for young drivers is well documented at this stage. In a case I am familiar with, a young person passed their theory test in January 2022 and he immediately applied for his mandatory 12 driving lessons. When these were completed, he applied for his driving test on the 2nd of December 2022. Some weeks ago, he still had not received an application to apply for his driving test. This wait is placing him and his family under considerable extra cost and stress which is completely unacceptable.”

In the course of his research into the matter Cllr O’Donoghue discovered that the next available date for a driving test in Killarney is May 25, 2024, while Tralee is June 3 2024.

“Bear in mind, these are only the dates on which you receive an invitation to book your test, the test itself will then be an estimated three to five weeks later.

“This is an appalling situation and one which needs to be rectified as a matter of urgency. I am proposing that driving instructors, which presumably are fully trained up on the rules of the road, be granted temporary powers to be allowed to issue temporary driving licences to young people. When the waiting list time has been reduced, I would still propose that these people sit the test as usual, but the current pressure needs to be alleviated as soon as possible. There is precedent as I believe that in the 1970s, a cohort in this country were issued driving licences without having sat a test as the wait time for the test was too long.”


Continue Reading


Last News