Skelligs Michael - A World Heritage Site
On this rugged island off our coast is a well preserved monastery and a remote hermitage perched a high rock. It is the most spectacularly situated of all our early medieval Irish Monastic Sites. The location of the island has helped to preserve and protect the monastic remains, allowing visitors to look in awe at the wonderful achievements of the monks.
Skellig Michael is also an internationally renowned site for breeding seabirds with its steep rock slopes and cliffs providing nesting places for a variety of seabirds.
The island has a combination of nature, heritage, culture that gives this special place a strong sense of spirituality and profound beauty. It is truly a place apart.
When you visit the island your visit begins at the landing at Blind Mans Cove you will walk up the lighthouse road on the south side of the island, ascending approx. 300 metres reaching cross cove. You pass under the wonder canopy and past the helicopter pad. From here you continue 50 metres approx to the beginning of the steps of the monastery.
After about 30 metres you will see a vertical piece of rock known as the Whailing Woman. From the Whailing Woman continue your ascent with the steeply rising steps bringing you to an area of flat ground between the two peaks of the island known as Christs Saddle. It is here it is recommended that you perhaps take a break and have your picnic / refreshments.
Remember to leave no trace after you. As you arrive at Christies Saddle the south peak rises to your left, this is the location of the Hermitage built by the monks.
This area is very inaccessible and visitors are not allowed access without prior permission. In front of you there is a fence which prevents access to the north steps, these are closed to the public. From Christies Saddle there is another steep climb on the steps which brings you to the Monastery. Always proceed with caution on your journey to the too of Skellig.
Trips to the Skelligs are by boat, most boats leaving Portmagee pier at approx 10am in the morning returning by about 3pm to 4pm. It is advisable to take a packed lunch and drinks. Wear suitable footwear and rain gear/ outdoor clothing. For your convenience we can book your trip.
The Monastery may have been founded in the 6th century but the first reference to the monks on the Skellig dates from the 8th century when the death of "Suibhni of Scelig" is recorded. They are believed to have remained there until the 13th century when the monks appear to have moved to the Augustinian Priory of Ballinskelligs on the mainland. In 1578 the island passed to the Butler Family. In the 19th century the island was purchased by the predecessor of the Commissioners of Irish lights in order to erect 2 lighthouses. In 1880 the office of public works took the monastery into state guardianship. In 1989 the state purchased the island from the Commissioners of Irish Lights with the exception of the lower working lighthouse. In 1996 the site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.