Unauthorized Activities and Disruptions reported on Skellig Michael

Since the reopening of Skellig Michael, a popular heritage site off the coast of Co Kerry, for the summer season, there have been numerous instances of unauthorized boat landings, prohibited drone flights, and close-flying helicopters. The island gained popularity after appearing in recent Star Wars movies. Reports from supervisors and guides on the island have highlighted these challenges.

Early in May, two helicopters circled the island while a yacht attempted to land, but was turned away by guides. Diving ribs were also observed, with some divers landing on the Skelligs out of sight of the guides. Despite poor weather conditions limiting activity on the island in mid-May, a private helicopter was reported flying in close proximity to the island, in violation of rules protecting national monuments.

A more detailed report from early June indicated that over 2,300 people visited the island during the latter half of May. The report noted attempts of yachts and ribs to land, but most were intercepted and sent back. Additionally, a cruise ship sailed near the island, private helicopters flew by the monastery, and a drone was spotted flying from the monastery, all in violation of regulations. Visitors were advised against climbing to the monastic site if they were unsteady on their feet.

Later in June, kayaks and a dive boat were reported to have landed on the island, but were sent away without major issues. Further reports from the month included additional helicopter flights, drone sightings, and unauthorized landings. Poor weather conditions continued into early July, resulting in few visitors. The Office of Public Works (OPW) emphasized that the flying of drones and helicopters near the island is strictly prohibited.

Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is protected by the Department of Housing and the OPW, which has implemented a no flying of drones policy over national monument sites.

Sources:

  • Original Article: Reports detail problems facing Skellig Michael since Star Wars reboot – The Irish Times

Definitions:

  • Skellig Michael: An island off the coast of Co Kerry, Ireland, known for its monastic site and appearance in Star Wars movies.
  • Heritage site: A place with cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): Also known as a drone, it is an aircraft without a human pilot on board.
  • National monument: A site of historical, archaeological, or cultural significance that is protected by law.
  • Department of Housing: The government department responsible for housing, planning, and local government in Ireland.
  • Office of Public Works (OPW): The Irish government agency responsible for the care and maintenance of national monuments and heritage sites.
  • UNESCO: The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which identifies and protects important cultural and natural heritage sites around the world.