RICH IN HERITAGE, FOLKLORE, CULTURE AND TRADITION.
The Skellig rocks have been home to some of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland. They provide sanctuary for a number of wildlife in the area. Skellig Michael, along with the Blasket island group and Puffin Island, supports some of the biggest breeding populations of manx shearwater and storm petrel in the world. Other seabird species breeding on Skellig Michael include fulmar, kittiwake, guillemot and puffin.
Looking down the steps on Skellig Micheal
This fascinating site, as well as the general wildness of the rugged island, offers an incredible glimpse into the lives of the monks, who lived in complete isolation from the mainland. The monastery – perched on a ledge an astonishing 160m above sea level – faces south, protecting those inside somewhat from the prevailing winds. Its very existence on the twin peaked crag is awe-inspiring. Try not to look down at the crashing waves as you gingerly climb the vertiginous steps that cut into the face of Skellig Michael.
And yes – access isn’t easy. Visitors must take care while following in the monks’ ancient footsteps. The 618 winding stone steps to the monastery are uneven and irregular, though this is to be expected considering they’re almost 1,500 years old! At the top, there are six beehive huts where the monks slept, a church dedicated to St. Michael, a walled garden and an early oratory. There’s also a cemetery with 22 grave slabs on the grounds. These impressive artefacts prompted the islands to be added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996. It’s a spiritual place guaranteed to reinvigorate its visitors. Despite the wind and waves, an otherworldly calm pervades. As such, the area should be treated with the utmost respect to ensure its precious links to the past are preserved and celebrated for years to come.
The Skelligs is also one of the country’s most important sites for breeding seabirds, as its steep slopes and cliffs provide the perfect nesting places. On the smaller island you’ll find the second largest colony of gannets in the world. In fact it’s home to over 27,000 pairs, as well as puffins, Arctic terns, black guillemots, herring gulls and many more. The documentary, Skelligs Calling, is a beautiful sonic portrayal by Irish producer Luke Clancy and sound-recorder Chris Watson. The pair spent time on Skellig Michael, capturing the wild cries of the birds and the howling of the wind, while archaeologist Michael Gibbons offered a glimpse into the island’s rich history.
If you’ve seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and now know the story behind this amazing site, you’ll surely want to visit! Access to the Skelligs is by ferry from the town of Portmagee and Derrynane Harbour. A number of boat tours make the trip from May to September (weather permitting). The surrounding area on the mainland is also well worth a visit – the Skellig Ring part of the greater Ring of Kerry Route runs along the coast and offers fabulous views of the crashing Atlantic and the Skellig Islands, as does Bray Head and many other sites along this quirky circular route and not a tour bus in sight. Explore on Kerry’s Wild and Wonderful Wild Atlantic Way.
Little Skellig viewed from Skellig Michael
Tours in and around the Skelligs can be organised by Jeannette, as part of your Irish Mystic Adventure.
All of our tours are tailored specifically to cater for your specific needs and expectations.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Jeannette.