Images from The Skellig Islands
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Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichíl)

Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichíl)

The legendary island and Unesco World Heritage Site. An 8th-9th century record tells of an earlier fight (possibly as early as the 5th-6th century) between the Kings of West Munster and the Kings of Cashel, which resulted in the King of West Munster fleeing here.

Puffin

Puffin

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

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.

Puffin Profile

Puffin Profile

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

Ready For Take-off

One Puffin readies for flight as its companion looks on.

Skellig Islands (Na Scealaga)

Skellig Islands (Na Scealaga)

From the southern corner of Little Skellig (Sceilg Bheag) a fishing boat crosses the channel between the two islands.

Stone Steps

Stone Steps

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.

Posing Puffin

Posing Puffin

This little guy was happy to stare into the lens, and I was happy to oblige!

Skellig Michael 2

Skellig Michael 2

A slightly different edit, showing the island in a warmer tone.

Resting Puffin

Resting Puffin

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

Just A Glance

A quick look to make sure I was a friend.

Rugged Stone Steps

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.

Puffin Life

Puffin Life

This little guy was completely unfazed by the humans passing by.

Resting Puffin B&W

Resting Puffin B&W

Taking a break from the demands of island life.

Little Skellig

Little Skellig

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

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

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

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

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.

Companions

Companions

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

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

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

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.

Beehive Huts

Beehive Huts

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

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

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.

Puffin Perch

Puffin Perch

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

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

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 .

Stone Cross

Stone Cross

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.

Copyright James Brown Photography