Eoghan Kavanagh is an Irish Landscape photographer. Evan Payne is an Irish American filmmaker. Together, they aim to explore and document all the corners of the Emerald Isle, starting with The Skelligs. They are asking for funding for their project on Kickstarter.com, and last week, having reached their primary goal, they took a short scouting trip to the islands. Here is what Evan wrote:
It is difficult to put into words just how moving and inspiring our first trip to the Skelligs was.
I think that both Eoghan and myself expected to be able to quickly grasp what the island was and what shots were there to take, in the same way we’ve scouted locations before. This was not like any place we’d been before, though, and it certainly is not an easy place to fit into your mind. I am left, writing now, with a calmness inside me, and a firm belief in the sentience of nature. This has gone far beyond excitement.
I’ve been telling people that the island welcomed us with open arms, and truthfully, we could not have asked for a visit more suited to us as photographers and documenters. We left the mainland port in a still, calm sea with very little wind. By the time we were well out to sea, the view surrounding us was obscured by fog. Out of that fog then, suddenly and dramatically, loomed Skellig Michael, and even as we approached the fog lifted to ensure we could see to the peak of the island as it towered over us.
We disembarked and were told we had two hours before the captain would return to pick us up, so we set off on the main path, a comfortable enough walkway created in recent years, and so relatively safe. Arriving at the steps, the view was still clear and the steepness was rather intimidating, but we started up the switchback stairs. Already, I was entranced with the life of the place, birds darting every which way, clover filling the air with honey scents, and scatters of rocks to remind one always of the fierce wind that must often arise there. But our ascent was straightforward, and as we rose, the fog also rose again, I think so that we wouldn’t be distracted with the area known as Christ’s saddle, but press on towards the summit and the ancient monastery.
Just before you reach the monastery there is a stretch of straight path on the edge of a steep drop off. As we reached that, we came out above the fog, above the clouds, and above the world. Here is where words begin to fail, but pictures might help. Here is a photo, by Eoghan. The just of rock you see in the background is the Little Skellig, the buildings the edge of the monastery.
The monastery itself was fascinating. I could talk for hours about how dedicated the men that lived there must have been to literally tear off the top of the mountain and build their homes from that rock. The fog cleared away while we were up there, revealing just how shockingly high we were and how treacherous the drop was. When I said, “the edge of the world” in our kickstarter video, I had no idea how accurate that phrase was.
And just like that we had only twenty minutes left to get back to the boat, so we very carefully retraced our steps and climbed onboard. The captain took us up close to the little Skellig, where thousands of sea birds make their home. It has its own energy, but it is the wild raucous energy of the birds that encase it, much different from its greener sibling nearby.
Neither of us wanted to leave, and I laughed as the weather changed yet again to cloudy and windy, making our return to the mainland both difficult and uncomfortable. I don’t think the island wanted us to leave either.
My head is still spinning with thoughts, the Skelligs are far more magical and mysterious than I imagined. Both Eoghan and myself feel a keen sense of responsibility to get this pitch perfect, not just for our amazing backers, but for the place itself. I am, fittingly, humbled before this place, and I cannot wait to get back out there and start this project.
–Evan (& Eoghan)
You can find out more at their kickstarter project page at http://kck.st/L3ErEr
Content and photos submitted by Evan Payne
Photos copyright (c) Eoghan Kavanagh