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.
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