A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Extreme monasticism & Star Wars
Skellig Michael or ‘Michael’s Rock in the Sea’ is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located 13 km off the Kerry coastline at an altitude of 600-feet and is one of the most dramatic examples of ‘extreme Christian monasticism’ in Europe. Tradition attributes the foundation of the monastery to St Finan between the 6th and 8th centuries AD. These early monks would have prayed, studied and tended their terraced gardens. They lived in beehive shaped huts that still remain water tight and every morning the monks would have descended 670 steps to fish for their dinner! The monks were not as ‘cut off’ from the outside world as one would imagine as it is believed that it would have only taken three days of sailing to get to Dublin and six days to get to the coast of France or Spain. It is believed that monks lived here right up until the 13th century when it became a place of pilgrimage after surviving numerous Viking raids. There is a fantastic wealth of bird life around the Skelligs including puffins and 23,000 pairs of gannets who nest on every available ledge of rock on Little Skellig making it the second largest colony in the world. There are also faint rumours from a galaxy far, far away that Jedi training may have taken place here!