Monday, July 21, 2014

The Adventure of Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael . . . one place in Ireland I have wanted to go since the first visit and yet one place I had not been able to experience.  This time, however, this time was different.  We were visiting in the summer you see . . and the boats to Skellig Michael only run in the summer :-) It was the number one priority for me.  After reserving our boat fare (had to change our itinerary completely in order to accommodate for the boat being fully reserved the day we had initially wanted to go) we then had difficulties the day before the planned trip.  I was supposed to call and verify that we were indeed going to be a part of the expedition but did not have phone access until that night.  After a few e-mails to the company and about 45 minutes of panic and depression the company was nice enough to hold our spots even though others had wanted to go in our place.  I am eternally grateful to the Casey family (Casey's boat trips to Skellig Michael) for making one of my dreams in life come true!

The fog and mist were rolling into the small town of Portmagee, Co. Kerry as we boarded the small vessel which would take us to our destination.  Twelve was the designated number in our boat.  The village was small, brightly colored and slightly windswept.  The country surrounding Portmagee was emerald and somewhat wild in appearance.  The wind was picking up pace ever so slightly as we headed out to sea.  This was going to be a fantastic day!  A one way trip to Skellig Michael took roughly 45 minutes in which the rain and wind increased throughout our journey.  Wet and exhilarated, we finally landed on the island at the base of 600 roughly shaped slate steps leading to the 8th century monastery located at the top.  The trip up was tedious, one wrong step could have you plummeting 600 feet to the sea below.  A few breaks were in order to catch our breath and take in the beauty surrounding us.  It was hot on the island and scarves, hats and jackets had to be removed on our ascent.  The steps also seemed to get smaller, less sturdy and more precarious the higher we climbed.  At long last we made it to the top.  The views were out of this world! It was well worth the climb!

The monastic site built on the island was developed somewhere between the 6th and 8th century. There are six beehive cells, two oratories as well as ancient burial sites marked by stone crosses and slabs.  These burial sites are thought to be the oldest structures on the island.  There was also a system of collecting and purifying water for the use of the small number of monks who would live on the island at one time.  The island was the perfect site for such a colony as the seclusion and height would bring them closer to God.   The monastery was continuously occupied until roughly the 12th century when the monks abandoned the island and took up residence in an abbey on the mainland of Ireland.

(the island had puffins a'plenty . . . what cute creatures they were)

The experience was unbelievable!  I would highly recommend this trip to anyone going to Co. Kerry, Ireland . . . unless you have a severe fear of heights.  The boats only operate in the summer months and are weather permitting.  The company we used was the Casey's Boat Trips to Skellig Michael and I believe was 50 euro for the round trip price.  There are guides that take turns living on the island who are there to assist you as well as give information about the site.  I found them very helpful and full on information.  I was a happy human being this day :-)