Skellig Michael is approximately 21.9 hectares in size, rising 218m (715 ft.) above the Atlantic Ocean. UNESCO added Skellig Michael to the World Heritage List in 1996 in recognition of the outstanding universal significance of its cultural landscape. It was seen as important to protect the island to the highest international standards because of its historical, architectural, artistic and archaeological interest.
UNESCO says the island “is of outstanding universal value being an exceptional, and in many respects unique example of an early religious settlement deliberately sited on a pyramidal rock in the ocean, preserved because of a remarkable environment.”
The monastery on Skellig Michael was founded by St. Finan (Fionán, in Irish), disciple of St. Brendan (484 – 577 A.D.). The medieval text Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis (The Voyage of St Brendan the Abbot) tells how St Brendan searched the sea for the “Isle of the Blessed”. The monastic site at Skellig Michael rests 600 feet up the 714 foot rock on man-made terraces. It is a collection of small beehive huts (clochán), two upturned boat oratories, a souterrain(an underground chamber or cave), graveyards and a medieval church, all reached via several flights of dry stone steps, that form three routes from landings on the north, south and east. These paths contain over 2,300 steps.
Of the two islands which make up the Skelligs, Small Skellig (Skellig Beag) is the home of over 30,000 pairs of gannets, the larger island, Skellig Michael, also an important site for breeding sea-birds. The main sea bird you will see are the puffins (otherwise known as the Bottlenose, the Sea Parrot or the Clown of the Sea) who are summer visitors from March to August. The puffin is unmistakable with its black back and white under parts, and distinctive black head with large pale cheeks and a tall, flattened, brightly-coloured bill. Other birds to be found on Skellig Michael include Rock Pipits, Shags, Gannets, Pigeons, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Guillemots, Razorbills and the native Skellig Seagull.
Skellig Boat Operators
Celtic Victor (Donal McCrohan)
Fionnuala - Skelligs Rock (Seán Murphy)
Departs from Portmagee Marina at 9am
Valentia Island, Co. Kerry
Skellig Walker (Fionán Murphy)