Lunchtime Photo

The Skellig Islands are famous for several reasons:

  • They are beautiful, pristine, world treasures, etc.
  • There’s a 6th century monastery at the top of Skellig Michael.
  • Little Skellig hosts gazillions of gannets. Also puffins, but only through August 7, when they depart for Iceland (boo!).
  • The final scene of Star Wars VII was filmed there. Bird conservationists were unhappy about this, but it has made the Skelligs considerably more famous. References to Star Wars are all over the place in Portmagee, where the boats go in and out.

Here are Skellig Michael (left) and Little Skellig (right) merged into a single silhouette:

If you want to know what Skellig Michael looks like without all the artsy effects, here it is:

Here are the steps on Skellig Michael that Rey had to climb to find Luke Skywalker. There are 618 steps in all. I didn’t even consider climbing them. In fact, we didn’t take a tour that landed on the islands at all, since they are strictly limited and have to be booked well in advance—especially now that the place is so popular with Star Wars fans. The ruins of the 6th century monastery at the top filled in as a Jedi temple in the movie.

Curious about what a gannet looks like? This will save you a trip to Wikipedia:

And here is Jim, the doughty boatman who took us out. We booked the trip at the last minute because Monday was such a gorgeous day, and Jim told us that on a scale of 1 to 10, the seas were a zero that day. This was great news for me, since I’m pretty susceptible to seasickness.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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