Skellig Michael has got to be one the most incredible places in the world. You’ll need to be reasonably fit to visit as you’ve got to get up 400 steps of a 1000 year old staircase and if you haven’t got a head for heights the narrow path near the top can be a bit daunting. However once you’re up there it’s one of the most incredible and fascinating places in the world.
Now a World Heritage the sight of the stone built beehive cells of this 6th Century Anchorite monastery will live with you forever. Landing here can be difficult and impossible if the seas are rough, although that didn’t seem to deter the Vikings who sacked this place on numerous occasions! When I went with Zegrahm Expditions it was a fabulous day.
The birds here are simply stunning. Peregrine Falcons glide effortlessly by staring you full in the face with an expression of half curiosity and half contempt and if you time it right, you almost feel you can walk up and shake hands with a puffin such are the bird’s acceptance of humans.
Exploring the monastery on Skellig Michael is a fascinating experience and you cannot fail to understand what the Spartan existence of those 12 monks and their abbot must have been like. There are six intact beehive cells (clocháns), over 30 early grave slabs and a haunting monolithic cross. Everything is drystone built up here, as are the steps, with the walls of the clocháns being almost 2m thick.
Inner and outer interlocking walls surround the site pierced by gates that access other steps down to the sea. At times you could be forgiven for thinking you are in somewhere like Macchu Piccu or Mycenae such is the impressive nature of the monk’s skill at building with natural materials.
You can find out more about Zehgram at the Cruise Line