Skellig Michael is a rocky island which has the Gaelic monastery located at the top of a huge rock rising to a height of 230 meters. The Skellig monastery dates back to the 7th century and is an ancient monastery of Ireland. The monastery seems to have been inhabited by about fifteen people presided by an abbot. The monastery was subject to a number of attacks by Vikings in the 9th century but it survived and flourished for nearly two centuries thereafter. In 1996 the monastery was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site, being one of the well preserved and better known monasteries in Europe.
Skellig Michael was constructed in 588 AD on a rocky island in County Kerry, about 15 kilometers off the coast of Ireland. Skellig Michael is situated in a remote area and is not very easily accessible to visitors. The monastery on the island stands testimony to the simple and austere life lived by the Irish Christian monks in ancient times. They lived in clochans or stone huts that resembled a beehive, as they rested on the high rising cliff walls. The site of Skellig Michael was abandoned during 1100 and revived as a destination for annual visits by pilgrims in the 1500s. A lighthouse was constructed on the island in 1826 and later in 1986 an official tourist bureau to take care of visits to the island was established.
The island of Skellig Michael, located nine miles off the coast of Ireland, lies near the smaller island of Little Skellig that is popularly known as a nature reserve.as it is home to numerous seabirds such as Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Gannet, Manx Shearwaters, Storm Petrels and Atlantic Puffin. The boat trip to Skellig Michael lasts for less than two hours from the mainland and one can enjoy the scenic views of the surroundings including that of the nature reserve of Little Skellig with its amazing variety of birds. So anyone visiting County Kerry would be interested to visit the site occupying an important place in Irish History.
Skellig Michael was founded in the 7th century and for nearly six hundred years the island functioned as a monastic center for Irish monks of the Christian faith. Visit to Skellig Michael is possible only in the summer months starting from April to October. The tour operators are granted thirteen boat licenses to run a single trip each to Skellig Michael in the permissible weather of the summer months. The approach to the monastery situated on a rock is steep and fraught with danger hence visitors are not allowed to climb the old steps to the monastery during inclement weather. Diving activities can be carried out in the sites around the rock.
The Conservation of Skellig Michael is entrusted to the Irish agency known as the “Office of Public Works”. The efforts of the agency to reconstruct some of the ruins at the site have been criticized by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO for failing to conduct sufficient study and research before undertaking the reconstruction work. Besides, the committee was of the opinion that the reconstructed portions need to be clearly demarcated from the ancient historic structure.