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Sorry Skywalker, I was here first

Abby Gruner, Editor

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     My family and I were very excited to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the first time. We were excited for another Star Wars movie to come out after such a long gap just as all the other Star Wars fans were, but we had an even more special reason to be excited: we had visited a place rumored to be in the movie. This place being Skellig Michael, an Island off of County Kerry, Ireland.

     At the top of Skellig Michael are the remnants of an abandoned monastery set up by monks between the sixth and eighth century (World Heritage Ireland). The monks built this monastery because they believed that by secluding themselves from society they would reach a greater union with God. Skellig Island was made a UNESCO World Heritage sight in 1996 (World Heritage Ireland). Tours are given of the island when the Atlantic is calm enough for boats to travel to the island.

     During June of 2015 my grandparents on my mom’s side took my sister, my mom, my dad and I on a tour of Ireland. I, being an Irish dancer, had always wanted to go to Ireland so this trip was very special for me. My family and I toured through Ireland with a touring company called “Vagabond” where we were taken from place to place in a van much smaller than the tour bus I had toured through Europe in the year before. I preferred this mode of transport much more because we were able to go off roading and see much more of Ireland than a big tour bus would have been able to get to.

     We started our tour in Dublin then eventually we made it to Dingle where we went kayaking to see Fungie the Dingle Dolphin and ate ice cream at Murphy’s ice cream. The next day we planned to go on a boat trip to Skellig Island. This trip was not a guarantee though because it often got cancelled due to the ocean being too rough. My sister and I were a little nervous going on this trip because we had been warned that many people suffered from motion sickness on the way there. However, we couldn’t refuse this once in a lifetime experience due to fear of motion sickness so we planned to go as long the boats were running.

     The next morning we were told by our guide that the trip to the island was on so we went down to the docks to get on the ferries that would take us. When we got to the boats the captains were handing out ugly, yellow rain pants. I was very alarmed because if the boats were running it meant the sea was supposed to be somewhat calm. I took the ugly, yellow pants as a precaution not expecting to really need them. I was very wrong. Even with the rain gear by the time we got to the island everyone was completely soaked because of the constant waves coming up onto the open-decked boat. To this day the shoes my mom wore on this expedition squeak with every step due to the salt water. I got to the island feeling like a soggy mess, but I tried not to let it ruin this amazing experience.

     One thing we knew going into this trip was that in order to reach the monastery we would have to climb a lot of stairs. In total there are about 600 stairs, none of which have a handrail to prevent falling over the steep cliffs. Earlier in the trip when we had visited the Cliffs of Moher my dad had jokingly hugged the fence separating cows from the tourists to prevent falling off the cliffs. The problem with this was that the fence was an electric fence so he wasn’t real excited to climb more steep stairs without a safe place to hold onto.

     We eventually made it up the steps and it was so worth it. It was crazy to think monks had carried all the stones needed to make the structures up the steps we had just climbed. Tour guides took us around showing us all the structures and telling us a lot of interesting information that I admittedly don’t remember much of now.

     We stopped to eat what we had packed in a clearing on the way down. We didn’t know it then, but that may very well have been the same place the iconic seen at the end of the movie where Rey finds Luke happened.

     I may have forgotten much of the information I learned on the trip, but I will never forget the amazing experience that was going to Skellig Michael. This trip was special at the time and was made even more special when we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens and found that we had been to the place before both Rey and Luke Skywalker.

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Sorry Skywalker, I was here first