" The Skellig Rocks "
The Skellig Rocks are located of the Iveragh peninsula in South-West Kerry. They are close to Bolus Head about 12km South of Valentia Island in Ballinskeillig bay. The rocks are made up of 2 main islands - Great Skellig or Skellig Mhíchíl and Little Skellig. Skellig Michael has an area of about 44 acres.
The meaning of the word Skellig is "splinter of a stone". Different variations of the name can be found throughout the country, There are settlements with a similar archeological backround found in Brittany, France - Mont Saint Michel and St.Michaels Mount, a pyramid shaped rock in Cornwall.
There are many local myths about the island. In the 5th and 6th centuries with the arrival of Cristianity to Ireland, men of the faith looked for seclusion and found it at Skellig Michael. They then embarked on a mission to create a monastary on the island. First of all "beehive huts", six in all were built. These cloisters provided for the monks living quarters and the darkness and seclusion required to serve their christian beliefs. St.Michaels church was built then. All of the buildings were based around the two wells on the island. A couple of oratories were built also. Steps were cut out of the rock on the approach from the landing area of the island to the monastary. A wall was then built known as the "Wall of Cashel" enclosing the site.
We will never know the daily happenings on the island. The island was raided by Viking Norsemen in 812 and 823.
The island is rich in mammals and birds. There is a large population of rabbits, mice and a few feral goats. The Skelligs are well known for there fine seabird colonies which include gannets, storm petrals, manx shearwaters, fullmers and kittiwakes, razorbills, puffins and a range of different gulls. Little Skellig is dominated by gannets. Underwater life is vast around the island with seals, dolphins and many other underwater treasures. There are 38 species of flora found on Skellig Michael and Little Skellig has only 8 species recorded.
A lighthouse was developed in the 1820's and was completed in 1826. The island is reachable by ferry from Portmagee, Valentia, and is an extroadinary part of Irish history and beauty.