Saints and Stones: Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichil)
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For 600 years, Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl in Irish Gaelic, meaning Michael's rock) was an important center of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. An Irish Celtic monastery situated almost at the summit of the 755 foot high rock, it was built in ca. 7th Century. Legend associates its founding with St. Fionan.

The monastic complex, arrived at after a steep climb of 600+ steps, contains a cluster of six clochans (beehive huts), two oratories, and several small terraces on a plateau approximately 700 feet above sea level.

The monastery survived a number of Viking raids in the 9th Century, notably in 823 A.D. It was later significantly expanded with a new chapel built around 1000 A.D.. The community at Skellig Michael was never large - probably 12 monks and an abbot. Some time in the 12th Century, the monks abandoned Skellig Michael and moved to the Augustinian Monastery at Ballinskelligs in County Kerry on the mainland.

Skellig Michael became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Little Skellig, located close by, is equally renowned in matters of ornithology, as it is the home to some 27,000 pairs of gannets – the second largest colony of such seabirds in the world.

About Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichil)

World Heritage Ireland: Skellig Michael
Heritage Ireland: Skellig Michael
Wikipedia: Skellig Michael
UNESCO World Heritage: Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael)
Sacred Sites: Skellig Michael
The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael
Trip to Skellig Michael (video excerpt from BBC Coast)

Journey to Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichil)

Skellig Michael is a steep rocky island approximately 7-1/2 miles west of the tip of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland visited only by boat from the town of Portmagee or several other towns on the Kerry County coast. Boats typically first approach Little Skellig, the second largest bird sanctuary in the world, for viewing before going on to nearby Skellig Michael (also known as Great Skellig).

Ordnance Survey Map (V2460)

Visitors Information

Visitors information may be found at The Skellig Experience and the geograph.ie websites. General tourist information may be found at the Discover Ireland: County Kerry, the Ring of Kerry, and the Portmagree, County Kerry websites.

Additional Photos of Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichil)

Approaching Little Skellig
Leaving Little Skellig
Approaching the East Landing at Skellig Michael
Skellig Rock Sign on Skellig Michael
Map of Skellig Michael
Lighthouse Path to the South Steps on Skellig Michael
Start of 600+ South Steps to the Monastic Plateau, Skellig Michael
More Steps, Skellig Michael
Even More Steps, Skellig Michael
View of South Peak from Christ's Saddle below Monastic Plateau, Skellig Michael
View of North Peak from Christ's Saddle below Monastic Plateau, Skellig Michael
Last of 600+ Steps to the Monastic Plateau, Skellig Michael
Outer Wall and Entrance to the Monastic Complex, Skellig Michael
Entrance to the Monastic Complex, Skellig Michael
Clochans (Beehive Huts), Skellig Michael
Clochans (Beehive Huts), Skellig Michael
Ruins of Church, Skellig Michael
Largest Clochan (Beehive Hut), Skellig Michael
Clochans (Beehive Huts), Skellig Michael
Clochan (Beehive Hut) and Cross, Skellig Michael
Entrance to Clochan (Beehive Hut), Skellig Michael
Close-Up of Clochan (Beehive Hut) Window, Skellig Michael
Interior of Clochan (Beehive Hut), Skellig Michael
Cross Slab, Skellig Michael
Cross, Skellig Michael
Monks Graves and Clochan (Beehive Hut), Skellig Michael
Monks Cemetary, Skellig Michael
Monks Graves, Skellig Michael
Back of Clochans (Beehive Huts), Skellig Michael
Back of Skellig Michael with Little Skellig and Kerry Coast in Background
View of Little Skellig from Skellig Michael
View through Church Window, Skellig Michael
Oratory Terrace, Skellig Michael
Oratory Terrace, Skellig Michael
Oratory, Skellig Michael
Terrace Near Entrance, Skellig Michael
East Path Used by Monks, Skellig Michael
Looking Down from Monastic Plateau, Skellig Michael
A Steep Path Down from the Monastic Plateau
Leaving Skellig Michael
Leaving the Skelligs

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