Earlier at the moment, I drove to a spot in North Dublin referred to as Tower Bay, which is about 5 minutes from my home in Donabate – a small seaside city in Eire.
Breathtaking cliffs go away you mesmerised as you stroll down the trail that has been carved into the cliff-face. It terminates at a stunning sandy seashore. Alongside the best way, you’ll be able to view thundering waves lapping and locking, crashing collectively and falling aside, again and again. Rocks jut upwards from unseeable depths, round which white foam shimmers. That is the panorama the archipelago of The Witcher 3’s Skellige was primarily based upon.
Skellige, named after real-life Irish islands Sceilg Mhicl and Sceilg Bheag – collectively often called the Skellig Islands – depicts a wild magnificence that’s really Irish. From the familial clans to the rain-soaked hills painted a hanging inexperienced, the rugged and treacherous panorama remembers the otherworldly presence of locations like Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher and naturally, the Skellig Islands themselves. In reality, Skellige has its personal pair of Skellig Islands in The Witcher 3: Ard Skellig and An Skellig. The previous means Excessive Skellig in Irish, whereas the latter merely means The Skellig, resembling the Higher and Lesser Skelligs in actuality.
Sceilg Mhicl’s first point out in Irish historical past comes from a people story that tells of a bunch of individuals changing into shipwrecked. This tragedy occurred as the results of an intervention by the magical Tuath D, a supernatural race of historical beings who damned the ship to sprint in opposition to the rocks of the craggy island. Sound acquainted? Our boy Geralt needed to take care of an historical race of spectral elves himself in Skellige, taking up the eponymous Wild Hunt because the world itself threatened to implode. It appears the Skelligs have a factor for attracting historical races of supernatural beings.
The misfortune connected to the real-life Skellig Islands was perpetuated all through Irish folklore, as documented by a report from the Kerry Archaeological Journal in 1913 titled “The Skelligs”. The report tells of Irr, son of the legendary Ml Espine, assembly his demise on the island upon reaching it:
Irr misplaced his life upon the western primary;
Skellig’s excessive cliffs the hero’s bones include.
In the identical wreck Arranan too was misplaced,
Nor did his corpse e’er contact Ierne’s coast.
That is significantly intriguing as a result of it proves The Witcher 3’s Skellige would not draw solely from the bodily panorama of Eire; it additionally attracts from the historical past and folklore imbued in its real-life supply materials. From Birna Bran being tied to the rocks to the sirens that roam the seas and skies, it is clear Skellige is an insurmountably lovely however deeply cursed land – identical to how the real-life equal is depicted within the Irish people tales I grew up listening to.
In reality, the surnames of the clans related to Skellige’s Excessive Kings in The Witcher – the An Craites and the Tuirseachs – imply “haunted” and “drained” in Irish, respectively. “Drained” may not sound that scary, however “haunted” undoubtedly resonates with the concept of a cursed ancestry. Nonetheless, it’s the juxtaposition of the archipelago’s untamed magnificence with the wild hazard and cursed nature of the Isles that really brings Skellige to life. As Irish poet Derek Mahon would say, “On the coronary heart of the ridiculous, the elegant.”
As is usually the case within the conventional Irish people tales younger Irish youngsters study in class, warriors and poets come collectively within the tightly-knit clans of Skellige. Amidst booming choruses in splendidly thick Irish accents and rivers through which blood and wine flirt, these tales are intoxicated by the sheer vitality imbued within the Irish/Scottish Gaelic tradition. Nonetheless, whereas the occupants of Skellige ostensibly resemble the Celtic Irish, their beliefs are way more in step with the Vikings who landed in Eire within the late eighth Century. In reality, even the longboats related to The Witcher 3’s Islanders and the structure of Skellige’s coastal capital, Kaer Trolde, bear hanging similarities to Viking seafaring tradition.
Though sufficiently gruff to be similar to conventional Vikings, the folks from the Skellige Isles are splendidly vibrant and resourceful – amongst them are alchemists, druids, blacksmiths and plenty of extra extremely proficient tradespeople. The actual fact the opposite Northern Kingdoms discriminate in opposition to folks from Skellige truly displays the very fact the Irish are sometimes stereotypically seen as happy-go-lucky drunkards in actuality, regardless of being well-educated and hardworking. Thanks for sticking up for us, CDPR.
Like Vikings, the folks of Skellige concern the wrath of the almighty Ragnarok, following a faith that’s strikingly much like Norse mythology – a faith the Vikings introduced with them to Eire. In reality, the primary goddess the folks of Skellige worship is known as Freya, and there are literally mentions of gods corresponding to Tyr and Heimdallr within the sport. Nonetheless, this mythology is fused with the non secular belief positioned in Skellige’s druids, highly effective elemental wizards of Irish legend who can management the climate itself. Making an attempt to tame lightning, rain and all method of wind, the druids helped to form Skellige into what it’s at the moment.
The implausible illustration of Irish mythological tradition is just not the one hyperlink connecting Skellige to Eire, although. The literal panorama and nature of Skellige are additionally value celebrating. In case you visited Eire and ventured out into the wilderness, it would not be lengthy earlier than you realised the areas of Skellige look as if they have been plucked proper out of the bottom and positioned into the sport.
It is not simply the well-known areas of Eire that seize this wild magnificence both. Whereas my very personal Tower Bay is nothing wanting spectacular, it is also the norm for coastal components of the nation generally to boast views which might be simply as breathtaking. Whereas the coasts have cliffs and sea, the inland areas of Eire are full of magnificent hills and thick evergreen forests that have been as soon as house to wolves and are nonetheless house to deer, foxes, squirrels and plenty of other forms of extraordinary fauna. Eire’s greens, browns and blues might present the nation with consistency in its general aesthetic, however no two components of this small island are precisely the identical – as is the case in The Witcher 3’s Skellige.
As an Irish particular person, witnessing this extremely highly effective depiction of my nation’s pure magnificence hit me onerous. Amidst the cityscapes and post-apocalyptic wastelands of my favorite video games, it is uncommon for me to see something that resembles my nation outdoors of the components that resemble each nation. Positive, skyscrapers, bridges and roads are acquainted, however the the rugged mountainous terrain of Eire’s coasts, the unparalleled greenery of its forests, and the totally untamed will of nature itself that encompass me every single day are not often current. It felt enlightening to see this superior magnificence represented in a sport as spectacular as Geralt’s quest to play Gwe – I imply drin – I imply discover his daughter.
In Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s poem Postscript, whereas describing the Flaggy Shore in Co. Clare, Heaney wrote:
Ineffective to assume you may park and seize it
Extra totally. You’re neither right here nor there,
A rush via which identified and unusual issues go
As large mushy buffetings come on the automotive sideways
And catch the center off guard and blow it open.
That is the great thing about the Skellige Isles – the great thing about Eire. Superior, magnificent and totally elegant, Skellige harnesses the historic, mythological and visible great thing about Eire, continuing to catch the center of the participant off guard and blow it open.