About Skellig Michael:
Although we do not have an exact date for the founding of the monastery here, tradition states that Saint Fionian founded it some time in the 6th Century. There are actually two islands here, this one is called Great Skellig. The beehive-shaped cells and oratories are well preserved and give a glimpse in to what must have been a difficult way of life.
By some time in the 11th Century the site had been dedicated to Saint Michael. Then, sometime in the 12th or 13th Century, the Monks abandoned Skellig Michael and moved to Ballinskelligs where they remained until, 1578, when the monasteries were dissolved under the rule of Elizabeth I.
The island today is perhaps most recognizable as the setting of “The Last Jedi”, the latest movie in the Star Wars series. But it is a fascinating glimpse of history to see how these monks lived in this isolated place.
Skellig Michael is one of the seven sacred sites along an imaginary line stretching from Ireland to Israel, known as “The Sword of Saint Michael“.
Traveling to Skellig Michael:
Skellig Michael can be visited by booking tours from Portmagee. Note: there are two types of tours: “The Landing Tour” and “The Eco Tour”. The latter is of interest to bird watchers (it never lands on the island) while the Landing Tour will actually get you on to the island. You then have a little over two hours on the island and there are local guides. Beware that due to weather conditions there is always the possibility that you will not be able to land. Also, you need to book these tours well in advance. Also, tours normally operate only from about mid-May through October.
Photo courtesy SkelligMichael.com