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St Michaels Rock

Great Skellig, or Skellig Michael is a fairly inhospitable island of rock which covers 44 acres and rises some 218 m (714 ft) above sea level. On the top is an ancient Christian Monastery reached by a 1500 year old stairway cut out of the rock. The Monks settled on Skellig Michael in the 6th century when they built 6 beehive cells and two boat shaped oratories. These structures, built without mortar, are still standing centuries later despite having been battered by numerous storms.

Surprisingly perhaps, the monks were self sufficient. They traded seal meat, eggs and feathers with passing boats for tools, cereals and animal skins. The skins were used as vellum on which the monks copied their religious manuscripts. The monks remained on the island until the 12th century when they moved to the mainland to the Augustinian priory at Ballinskelligs.

Now thousands of seabirds are the only residents - storm petrols, puffins, and the like. Here, and on Little Skellig, they can breed in peace free from the fear of any predator.

High up on Skellig Michael, the Little Skellig can be seen a short way off. These two rocks were the first sign of land that Charles Lindbergh saw as he flew across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927

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