Exploring Essential Facts About Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael attracts thousands of visitors annually from across the globe, and its popularity has surged in recent years. The island’s ancient monastic ruins, diverse wildlife, and stunning cliffs and coastline add to its appeal, making it a highly sought-after destination for travellers seeking a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a history lover, a nature enthusiast, or simply in search of an extraordinary adventure, Skellig Michael offers something special for everyone. However, before embarking on your journey to this captivating island, it’s helpful to have some background knowledge. That’s where our team at Skellig Coast Adventures comes in. We’ve compiled essential facts about Skellig Michael to ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit. Read on to learn more. 

There are Two Skellig Islands: There are actually two Skellig islands; Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. Skellig Michael is the larger of the two, and its the one that’s famous for its ancient monastic settlement and dramatic, beautiful cliffs. There’s also the Little Skellig, which is the smaller island and is located approximately 1.5 kilometres to the northeast of Skellig Michael. Little Skellig is strictly off-limits to the public, to protect its wildlife as its renowned for its seabird colonies and has one of the worlds largest gannet populations.

Has a Fascinating History: Skellig Michael is steeped in fascinating history, primarily centred around its ancient monastic settlement. The island is home to well-preserved remains of a monastery dating back to the early Christian period, believed to have been founded in the 6th or 7th century. This monastery, which you can see when you visit the island,, perched atop the island’s rugged cliffs, consists of stone beehive huts, oratories, and terraced gardens, providing a remarkable glimpse into the lives of early Christian monks who inhabited the island.

An Uninhabited Island: Skellig Michael stands as an uninhabited island, devoid of permanent residents since the abandonment of the monastery in the late 12th century. While monks once called it home for over six centuries, today it remains untouched by human habitation, except for occasional visits by fishermen and tourists. This uninhabited status adds to its appeal, offering visitors a sense of solitude and a glimpse into a bygone era of isolation.

Features Inaccessible Terrain in a Remote Location: Skellig Michael’s rugged terrain and remote location contribute to its mystique and appeal that visitors enjoy. Situated approximately 12 kilometres off the coast of County Kerry, the island is accessible only by boat and is subject to weather conditions. Once ashore, visitors must navigate over 600 ancient stone steps carved into the steep cliffs to reach the monastic site. This challenging journey adds to the sense of adventure and discovery for those who make the pilgrimage to Skellig Michael. 

Plenty of Unique Flora and Fauna: Despite its harsh environment, Skellig Michael supports a surprising variety of plant and animal life. Coastal grasses, lichens, and mosses cling to the rocky cliffs, while seabirds such as puffins, gannets, and razorbills nest in the crevices. The island’s unique microclimate and isolation have encouraged the evolution of species adapted to thrive in this challenging habitat, making it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and botanists alike.

Fascinating Maritime History: Skellig Michael also has a rich maritime history that spans centuries. Evidence of prehistoric and mediaeval maritime activities, including fishing and boat-building, illuminates the island’s role as a hub of maritime commerce and exploration. Situated along important trade routes and close to abundant fishing grounds, Skellig Michael played a vital role in facilitating trade and communication in the region. 

Star Wars was Filmed on the Island: Skellig Michael also gained international fame when it was featured in the Star Wars saga, serving as the remote planet of Ahch-To, where Jedi Master Luke Skywalker sought refuge. The island’s dramatic landscape and ancient ruins provided the perfect backdrop for key scenes in “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” introducing its rugged beauty to millions of viewers around the world. This is a reason that many people visit the island for.

Home to Unique Wildlife: Skellig Michael’s remote location and protected status have made it a sanctuary for diverse wildlife. Seabirds flock to the island’s cliffs to breed and raise their young, creating a cacophony of sounds and a spectacle of aerial acrobatics. Puffins, with their colourful beaks and distinctive waddling gait, are a particular favourite among visitors, adding to the island’s charm and appeal.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site: Skellig Michael was honoured with UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1996 due to its profound cultural and natural significance. The island’s impeccably preserved monastic ruins, along with its distinctive ecological environment and breathtaking coastal vistas, contributed to its recognition as a site of exceptional universal value. This esteemed designation underscores Skellig Michael’s pivotal role as a symbol of Ireland’s early Christian legacy and its significant contribution to the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

Considering a visit to Skellig Michael? Skellig Coast Adventures eagerly awaits your arrival, offering a range of affordable tours to this breathtaking island. Choose from our selection of Skellig coast adventures, including both Landing Tours and Eco Tours. Both options provide an unforgettable experience, filled with stunning wildlife, scenery, sights, and history.

If you’re eager to set foot on Skellig Michael, our landing tour is tailor-made for you. It gives you the chance to step off our boat and onto the island, where you’ll ascend its famous steps guided by an expert tour guide. You’ll get to learn all about the island’s rich and deep history up close, perfect for those craving exploration and historical immersion.
Alternatively, our Eco Tour is ideal for those who prefer to stay aboard. Immerse yourself in the wonder and folklore of the Skellig coast from the comfort of our boat, as our knowledgeable guide shares captivating tales passed through time. Experience the abundance of wildlife, nature, flora, and beauty surrounding the Skellig islands, perfect for those with limited mobility or simply seeking relaxation. Simply use our online booking tool to book your excursion.

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