One of the joys of visiting Skellig Michael is the population of around 10,000 Puffins, who call the island 'home' between April and August.
Above Christ's Saddle
The flattest part of the island, where the north and south stone steps meet. This was the location where Luke Skywalker was found at the end of the Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.
A surprise to me when visiting the island was the approachability of the Puffins. They appear completely unconcerned by human visitors.
Ready For Take-off
One Puffin readies for flight as its companion looks on.
Skellig Islands (Na Scealaga)
From the southern corner of Little Skellig (Sceilg Bheag) a fishing boat crosses the channel between the two islands.
The south steps. The monks constructed several stone steps on different sides of the island to afford access during variable weather conditions. These southern steps are the only ones open to visitors.
This little guy was happy to stare into the lens, and I was happy to oblige!
Skellig Michael 2
A slightly different edit, showing the island in a warmer tone.
There are Puffins absolutely everywhere on Skellig Michael. This one, perhaps after a flight to feed, is taking a well-earned break.
Just A Glance
A quick look to make sure I was a friend.
Rugged Stone Steps
The beauty of Skellig Michael comes from its exposure to the elements. The monks who laid these stone steps had no option but to follow the contours of the island to enable safe passage in this harsh environment.
This little guy was completely unfazed by the humans passing by.
Resting Puffin B&W
Taking a break from the demands of island life.
At the eastern corner of the smaller Skellig Island, which is home (at the time of my visit) to some 75,000 Gannets. Around 13km from the County Kerry mainland.
Skellig Michael Landing
Showing where visitors arrive at the island. The scale and steepness of a now-closed stone walkway is apparent.
Leaving Skellig Michael
After a thrilling experience, climbing the 600 steps to the summit and the ancient monastic settlement, it was time to return to the mainland with my memories and a promise to return to this magical place.
Little Skellig 2
This is the view of the smaller island from Skellig Michael's landing stage. Tourist boats wait offshore for their passengers to return for collection.
A Puffin's View
The Puffins make their homes in any space they can find. Here on the steep hillside, mid-way up the island, the view is breathtaking.
Puffins prefer to burrow into the soil to prepare their nest, but will also use spaces under rocks, something I saw many times during my visit. These two have emerged from their home, most likely to feed.
Above Christ's Saddle B&W
About as high as it is possible to climb on Skellig Michael. The high peak in this shot is where the monastic settlement is located.
View From The Monastery
The drystone walls allowed for flatter areas of land to facilitate both the monastery itself and the growing of crops.
View Of Little Skellig
From the monastery, atop Skellig Michael, is a view little changed in centuries. It is easy to see why this place became home to those wishing to practice Monasticism.
It is believed that the monastic settlement dates from 6th-8th century. These cells are of a dry stone construction and were home to up to 12 monks.
Stone Cross B&W
There are over 100 crosses which have been found on the island. This is one of the largest, standing alongside the Oratory.
View From St Michael's Church
Most of the church (dating as early as 10th century) has long collapsed but this window remains, framing the view towards Little Skellig.
Three Puffins congregate on the dry stone outer wall of the monastic settlement. Little Skellig and the County Kerry mainland sit below.
Beehive Huts B&W
Three of the 6 beehive cells which provided shelter from the often wild weather. The layering of stones in this fashion allowed for rainwater to run down the outside, keeping the interior water-tight.
Skellig Islands B&W
The waters here support a diverse array of life. Apart from the sea birds and fish, Dolphins, Whales and basking Sharks are visitors .
Skellig Michael remained inhabited until the 12th-13th century when the climate became colder and harsh storms made life here even more difficult. The monks would move to the abbey at Ballinskelligs.