By road, the jumping-off point for Valentia is PORTMAGEE, a harbour village situated beside the long bridge to the island. Its Skellig Heritage Centre and tourist office, actually just across the bridge, gives some fascinating background on seabirds and other marine life, lighthouses and early monastic life, with an impressive short film about Skellig Michael. The centre also has a café with fine views of Portmagee, and runs cruises around, but not onto, Skellig Michael, which are useful for those who could not manage the 650 steps to the island’s summit and which may be running on some days when the weather isn’t quite good enough for boats to land on the island; in worse weather, ninety-minute mini-cruises around the Valentia channel are occasionally laid on.

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