Storm Francis landed on the coastal village of Waterville precisely at 2100 hour, according to forecast. Throughout the night, the wind roared, the ocean raged, the roof rattled, I slept like a baby.
In the morning I woke up to this.
Seeing how bad it was out there and the road devoid of traffic, I decided to take it easy and hang around in the hotel as long as I could.
Although, longing for some action, I stepped out into the wind briefly to check out the waves up close and personal.
Breakfast at the hotel was copious with porridge, pastries and fish,
Stuffed and ran out of things to do, I packed my belongings, said my prayer and got back on the road.
There were not many cars out there, I drove with caution.
My first stop was the Ballinskellings Beach.
I treaded along the beach following the trail marker to Ballinskellig Castle. With heavy rainfall, the path was covered by a small stream, which I was not equipped to pass.
The wind subsided over the course of my lingering. I was surprised to find a handful of swimmers in the water. The ocean must be warmer than it looked.
After the beach, I took a detour to the Ballinskellig Abbey
The view from the ruined abbey was…passable. There’s no parking and the narrow path made it tricky for cars to turn around.
My next stop was the Skellig Chocolate Factory.
Along the way, I was awed by the occasional sightings of the two Skellig islands rising ghostly above the sea.
There was a line outside of the Chocolate Factory. Social distancing rules were practiced. After sampling several flavored chocolate bars I picked up a bag of extra dark chocolate drops to make hot chocolate at home. With a cafe and washrooms, this is a good pit stop on the ring.
More stormy Atlantic Coast later
I arrived at the Skellig Experience Visitor Center in Portmagee to confirm my boat ride to Skellig Michael the following day. It was still on I was told but the 10 o’clock sailing could be a little rough.
A little, was an understatement...…
As I stepped out of the Visitor Center, the sun came out. I decided to circle back on the ring and visit the Kerry Cliffs. There’s an entrance fee of €4 per person. Due to the windy condition, the eastern side of the cliff was closed to visitors, the gate keeper told me to keep the ticket in case I was in the area the next day and wish to complete my visit. I did just that.
The wind made it hard to hold the phone/camera steady. But the view was spectacular.
QC’s is one of the best dining destinations on the Skellig Ring, they also operates a boutique hotel attached to the back of the restaurant.
The light-filled room comes with a fridge full of goodies for breakfast – homemade yogurt with granola, Kerry apple juice, Quinlan’s award-winning smoked salmon and creme fraiche, butter, jams, milks and bag of pastries delivered to the door before morning.
And the food at the restaurant did not disappoint!
I probably ordered too much. But I was happy to have survived storm Francis and made it to my destination unscathed. A good night sleep was all I needed before the unnerving boat ride to the island of Skellig Michael.