Saturday, June 11, 2016

Skellig Michael Island

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.

Skellig Michael has to be one of the most incredible and fascinating places in the world. Not only is it a place of breathtaking scenery rich in natural wonders, but it’s also a place steeped in history. In the 6th century St. Fionan founded a monastic settlement on the Island. This incredible feat of engineering and leap of faith, took place on an island some 714 feet high, lying 8 miles off the south-west coast of Ireland and involved the construction of Stone built beehive cells, Retaining walls, two oratories, a church, cross slabs, two wells, Stone terraces, flights of stone steps leading from their landing sights at sea level to the Monastery some 200 metres above and much more. The Monks are believed to have inhabited Skellig Michael until the 12 Century when they abandoned the site and moved to the mainland. Through the 600 years they spent there, they endured Faithfully the harshness of life as well as merciless raids from Viking invaders. In one such raid it was recorded in the Annals of Ulster that in 823 AD the Monk Eitgal of Skelligs was captured by the Vikings and taken from the Island and the deaths of Blathmhac in 950 and Aed in 1044 were recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters.

Along with its smaller neighbor, 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.

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