Portmagee Epilogue

So, I didn’t get to go see the Skelligs. I did get a nice chance to wander the countryside and talk to some nice people. Really, the folks in Ireland – whether they live here or are just visiting – have been amazingly nice.

The Moorings is a fantastic place to stay. The rooms are good, the food is amazing, and they’ve got a restaurant and a bar attached. But the nicest part of it all is that the people who work here are so friendly and helpful. That’s seeming to be a pattern, here in Ireland – the folks who run guesthouses are all absolutely delightful to talk to. But The Moorings is second to none.

I spent this evening in the bar, talking to the staff, to the other tourists, and to the locals. I had a wonderful dinner of roast lamb, and I even tried a pint of Guinness1.

Here’s proof for all you doubters.

And now I pack up. The taxi is coming at 7:30 tomorrow to take me to the bus which will take me to the other bus which will take me to the third bus which will take me to Bunratty, and a medieval feast.

  1. For those who don’t know, I don’t drink. I’m not against drinking, I just never picked up the habit. But coming to Ireland, it seemed that I would have to try Guinness, just to be able to say I did. While I didn’t hate the flavour, it’s obvious that it’s an acquired taste. I only finished half my pint. []

No Skelligs For Me

Got up this morning, and it was raining a bit. I went down to breakfast and found out that the seas were too choppy for the boats to go out to the Skelligs. As today is my only day in Portmagee, that means I miss my chance1 to visit Skellig Michael and see the monastery.

I’m pretty disappointed, because Skellig Michael was one of the things I really wanted to see. I mean, I can’t blame the boatmen for making the decision – they know their business, and if they think it’s too rough, then it’s too rough. Really, it’s my own fault for coming so late in the season, and for not building in the flexibility of staying an extra day to take a chance tomorrow.

Oh, well.

So, to make up for my lost chance to see the Skelligs, I indulged in a full Irish breakfast – eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, and white pudding2. Black pudding is a blood sausage that is sliced up and fried, and white pudding is just black pudding without the blood. I was a little leery of them, but gave them a try, and they’re not bad. I’m not terribly fond of the flavour – I liked the regular sausage and the bacon much better – but the puddings are nowhere near the level of disgusting that you’d think hearing people talk about them.

I lingered over breakfast, talking to another guest, named Frank Cooper. He told me an interesting story, which is documented here. We talked for over an hour, and I heard about his solo circumnavigation of the globe, how he met the King of the Gypsies in Papua, and about some close calls with whales on his various voyages. All in all, an interesting breakfast.

Afterwards, I took a walk to the Skellig Experience, the little visitor’s centre on Valentia Island just over the bridge, and got some pictures along the way.

This tower sits midway along the bridge. I think it is a leftover from when the bridge was able to be raised to allow ships to pass, but I could be wrong.
Looking inland from the bridge, up the Portmagee channel. Tide is low.
This little island in the Portmagee channel apparently has the ruins of an old monastery on it. I couldn’t get out to it today, either. But it looks cool.
The road stone welcoming me to Valentia Island.
This is the Skellig Experience, the interpretive centre for the Skelligs. They offer cruises around the Skelligs without landing, but even those were canceled today because of rough seas.

The Skellig Experience was small, but it had some neat little displays about the history of the Skelligs. There was also a film about Skellig Michael, showing the climb up to the top. I have to say, watching the zooming helicopter shot3, I was a little relieved that I wouldn’t be climbing up those steep, smooth steps in a light misting of rain.

Then, of course, they cut to some tourists climbing the stairs with a young child – maybe three or four – and all of a sudden I felt like a big wimp. I will need to come back at some point and try again.

I did buy a little book and some postcards showing the Skelligs. But it’s not the same. And then I walked back across the bridge4 and back to my room to write this post.

A look at Portmagee from across the channel on Valentia Island.

I’ve got dinner tonight, and then an early bed time. I need to be in Cahersiveen by 8:00 tomorrow morning to catch the bus back to Killarney, or my entire travel schedule falls apart.

Wish me luck.

  1. On this trip, at least. []
  2. It also came with tomato, but I don’t like tomato, so asked that they not bother putting it on my plate. []
  3. Or whatever they were using. It looked like a helicopter shot. []
  4. With my hat tied on again –  the wind was pretty fierce. Made me believe that the seas were too rough for the boats to go out, no matter how calm the waters in the channel looked. []


Today was mainly a travel day. Bus from Cork City to Killarney, then wait four hours for the bus to Cahirseveen1, and finally take a taxi from Cahirseveen to Portmagee. I got here shortly after five, just a little too late to make it across the bridge to the Skellig interpretive centre on Valentia Island.

I’m staying at The Moorings, which is a very nice guesthouse. The room here is bigger than at either Ariel House or Garnish House, and looks a little more like a North American hotel room.

The Moorings, where I’m staying. It’s right on the water in Portmagee.
This is directly across the street from my guesthouse. It’s where I’m going to take the boat tomorrow morning to get to the Skelligs.
Across the water, past the boats, is Valentia Island. The low stone building is the Skellig interpretive centre. I got here too late to check it out tonight; maybe tomorrow after the boat trip.
Looking down the harbour towards the sea. At 10:00 am tomorrow, that’s where I’m heading.

The Skelligs Package here at The Moorings is really quite nice. Not only do you get the room and the trip to the Skelligs, but you get a voucher for a dinner, a packed lunch for the trip, a free special Irish Coffee2, and some very nice Skellig chocolates.

Apparently, according to the taxi driver who brought me here, the boats were not able to land on the Skelligs last week, but did land this morning. Weather looks promising, but the announcement will be made in the morning at breakfast whether or not the boats are going out. I hope they do, obviously.

Now, to sleep. I need to be rested for climbing the 660 steps on Skellig Michael tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

  1. I gotta say, I have no idea if I’m spelling that right. I have seen four or five different spellings, many of them in this past day as I was trying to get there. []
  2. Which I’m not really interested in, but still. []