Of the countless sites I visited in Ireland none captured my attention quite like the hike up Skellig Michael. The islands in the Ring of Kerry rise out of the Atlantic Ocean a few kilometers from Valentia Island. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a immaculately preserved monastic outpost from the Early Christian period. It’s no wonder the site is beautifully preserved as the island is protected by sheer cliffs and rough waters below. Monks resided here somewhere in the 8th century. They dedicated their lives to isolation and their religion. Note: Luke Skywalker was not one of these monks 🙂
My adventure began early in the morning. Montanna and I boarded a boat with about eight other adventurers. I was nervous as I dislike boats and have a mild fear of open water. It was raining lightly – the typical drizzle you come to expect from Ireland. The boat set off and we made our way to the massive outpost. As we approached, we saw native garnets and puffins hunting in the waves. The island itself is brilliant emerald and black from the rocks. The waves were deep blue and choppy.
When we stepped off the boat we were greeted by the tour host. He cautioned us about the slick steps and not to disturb the puffin nesting sites. He said he would meet us at the top in about an hour and sent us on our way. Montanna and I started climbing the eight hundred ancient stairs to the monastery. She started cursing my name since she was afraid of heights and the sheer cliffs lacked handrails. About half way up we reached the saddle of the island and were greeted by a fierce wind. It was as if someone set off a fan in a wind tunnel. The last leg was the steepest and narrowest. From the summit you could view the iconic Beehive Monasteries and stone dwellings made of rocks clearly gathered from the area. It is also apparent that the inhabitants also dug into the side of the cliffs for shelter. The wind was still fierce, but, inside the domes it was peaceful.
We spent about an hour poking around then we listed to the guide talk about the history. On the other end of the settlement they had found a hermitage. Meaning, one monk decided to further his isolation by living separately from the structures.
Back down the eight hundred steps and a cold, wet boat ride back to the mainland we arrived back to our car. The weather had picked up on the boat ride back, dumping sea water on everybody every few minutes. We were soaked and frozen to the bone. I don’t know if fun was the exact words for the end of the experience, but it was surely an adventure!
To book your trip to Skellig Michael visit HERE to book a landing tour. Remember that the tour is highly dependent on the weather so keep tabs. Their season runs from May 15th to October 2nd as the weather is typically fair. Also pay attention to cash or card operations. My tour was cash only.
Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate