Difference between revisions of "Skellig Michael"
Revision as of 20:28, 1 June 2010
It is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Skellig Michael is home to a 6th Century monastic settlement. This complex is perched on the steep sides of the larger of the two Skellig Islands, some 12 km off the coast of south-west Ireland. It illustrates the very spartan existence of the first Irish Christians. Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved.
The monastery on Skellig Michael survived a number of Viking raids in the 9th century, notably in 823, was later significantly expanded, with a new chapel built around the start of the second millennium. The community at Skellig Michael was apparently never large - probably about 12 monks and an abbot. Some time in the 12th century the monks abandoned the Skellig and moved to the Augustinian Monastery at Ballinskelligs on the mainland.
Starting in the 1500s, Skellig Michael became a popular destination for annual pilgrimages, but had no permanent residents. In the 19th century two lighthouses were built and the Great Skellig was again inhabited, this time by a changing rota of lighthouse keepers. The second lighthouse still operates, though it was largely rebuilt during the 1960s and has been automated since the 1980s. In 1986 some restoration work was done and an official tourist bureau associated with the island was established. However restrictions have recently been imposed on tourist access, in the belief that tourist numbers (in particular use of the ancient stone steps up the rock) were causing a worrying degree of damage to the site. Alternative methods that would preserve the site while allowing public access are being considered. In 1996 it was made into a World Heritage Site
There are two Skellig Islands off the Coast of Co. Kerry. Along with its smaller neighbour, Little Skellig, Great Skellig is an important nature reserve. Between them the Skelligs hold nationally important populations of a number of seabirds, including gannet, fulmar, kittiwake, razorbill, common guillemot, and Atlantic puffin. Storm petrels and Manx shearwaters also nest in large numbers.
Flora and fauna
Keep an eye out on Skellig Michael, for the Puffins that inhabit the island and get quite close.
Due to the winter weather boats sail out in the summer season roughly (April-September)
You will have to get a boat out to the island, but visitor numbers are restricted and a limited number of operators are permitted to run tours. Here is a list of some of the Boat operators:
Boats normally leave at around 10-10:30AM. The boat trip out last about 45 minutes most tours give you 2-3 hours on the island. The return journey is again 45 minutes returning to harbour at around 3-4PM.
The closest town that is fully accessible by public transport is Caherciveen,
Boat trips are pretty much a standard rate of €40 in the off-peak season and €50 in the summer months.
There are no Banking Facilities in Ballinskelligs or portmagee so you will need the money before you arrive.
There are no vehicles on the Island.
From the landing bay there is a small road that runs to the start of the stairs that lead up to the monastery. The Stairs are in a reasonable condition, however they are old and there are no safety ropes, whilst not being actively dangerous they do require some care, a dose of courage and some decent shoes.
The South Steps are the main route to the summit. They run up from the Heliport to ‘Christ’s Saddle’ a relatively flat piece of land between the two peaks of the Island. The monastery is on the Eastern peak and is an easy walk from ‘Christ’s Saddle’. The Hermitage is located on the South Peak, It is highly inadvisable to attempt to cross to the South Peak, the paths are not stable and the Hermitage itself is only accessible with climbing equipment.
Shops at the ports sell many traditional Irish souvenirs.
Skellig Chocolates  are a local company that make high quality and thoroughly recommended chocolates.
There are no catering facilities on the Island.
Bringing a picnic is a good idea however it is requested that this be eaten away from the remains of the monastery, to help stop seabirds scavenging among the ruins. The base of the steps near the Heliport is perhaps the best place to have a picnic, as it is well sheltered.
There are pubs in Ballinskelligs & Portmagee, which are the ideal place to have a drink once you return. The Bridge Bar and Fisherman’s Bar both lookout over the harbour, both serve food.
It is not possible to stay on Skellig Michael, Accommodation is available at the Harbours.
BallinskelligsWorld Famous Irish Hospitality Music, Food, Pubs Ceoil & Craic – Uniquely Local Ballinskelligs, Ring of Kerry, Ireland Ph: +353 (0) 66 947 9942 +353 (0) 66 947 9942 Mobile: +353 (0) 86 397 7834 +353 (0) 86 397 7834 Email: [email protected] Web: www.skellighostel.com
Don’t forget that this is a ‘wilderness outing’ to an uninhabited Atlantic Ocean island where there are no modern facilities. Bring food, water, and sensible clothes. The boat crossing can be choppy and there are no safety rails on the climb at Skellig Michael so tread carefully and responsibly. Visitors should be aware that two tourists fell to their death on the island in 2009 while navigating the steps to the monastery. The safety warnings are in place for a very good reason.