An extraordinary place to visit in Ireland is the Skellig Islands composed of two islands namely Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. They are situated in the country Kerry of Ireland. The Skellig Islands are known for its natural and scenic beauty occupied with steep rocks. It has a rich historical background. It was the abode of monks during the sixth century, when they established the monastery in the island. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all sides, the Skellig Islands provides a warm climate that attracts thousands of sea birds for nesting and breeding each year.
The Skellig Islands have been established as UNESCO’s World Heritage site in 1996 and it is one of the major places of attraction in Ireland. The island serves as a boon for mountain climbers for it has rocks that are steep and slippery. The steep rocks make up the larger part of the land. Every mountaineer would find it adventurous to climb the Skellig peaks. The Skellig is derived from Irish word that indicates the steepness of rocks.
According to various historical sources and archaeologists, there was a dissention between the kings of West Munster and Cashel. This discord was said to have caused the king of West Munster to escape from his territory to the Skellig Islands. The major cultural heritage of the island is the Monastery viewed as a dedication to Saint Michael. The Monastery of Saint Michael was built around eighth century.
The Monastery of Saint Michael is the key landmark that identifies the island. A church was constructed which was actively working during the medieval period. It served as the place of pilgrimage for thousands of monks. But a few centuries later, the wild storm and other calamities accelerated the extinction of human habitat in the island.
The dissolution of the monasteries occurred in the early sixteenth century. In pre – nineteenth century, Commissioners of Irish Lights purchased the two islands. Two lighthouses were constructed on the island which is of paramount importance to the sailors. They mark the west side of the island.
There is also the Hermitage which consists of an Oratory terrace. The small oratory terrace within the hermitage has been restored by the archaeologists during the excavation and conservation works.
The climatic nature of the Skellig Islands attracts thousands of seabirds to breed each year. The major birds include the members of puffin, fulmar and gannet families. The Skellig Islands have been conserved as a natural heritage site for years by the government of Ireland.
The Islands also hold a wide variety of mammals and birds. The diverse features of the land prove the diversity in fauna of the islands. Grey Seal is the most spotted animal. The rocky nature of land causes poor vegetation in the Islands. The soil is loose and the wind is salty. The thrift, sea campion and rock sea-spurrey are often seen flora in the island.
The Island is a natural protection by itself. Since it is very difficult to travel through the Atlantic waters, the island serves as the asylum for people to hide. The salty winds and non – availability of commonly eatable resources makes one difficult for living in the island.
During the post monsoon, the Islands are exposed to disasters and catastrophes. The storm and cyclone clears most of the vegetation present there. The steep rocks may produce landslides which are very risky to be witnessed. Hence, the apt time to visit the islands is during the summer. The island holds bright sunshine during the summer which feasts the eyes with the aesthetic view of the seas.
The lighthouses in the island help the sailors to identify directions in the midst of the ocean. These lighthouses are humongous with strong construction for they have been withstanding the pressures from various climatic conditions over decades. One cannot simply forget the view offered through the top of the lighthouse.
The island is not fit for human habitat to shelter. But for the mountain climbers, this is yet another boon. The rocks are hard and steep. Necessary precautions have to be taken during trekking and climbing. First aid kits have to be carried for there are no hospitals available in the islands. Specialised guards have to be accompanied for directions. Provisions have to be made in order to escape from the attack of wild animals.
Since the place is declared a natural conservatory of fauna, non – biodegradable and other items which could pollute the environment are prohibited from utilising. The islands holds naturally set harbours making it easy for the travellers. Several beautiful locations are available which attracts the film makers.
The Skellig Islands are one of the God’s own creations garnished with beauty and charm. Although the nature of islands make it unfit for human living, it is an extraordinary travel spot. The scenic beauty of rocks, the charming remains of the Monastery, the mind blowing construction of the lighthouses and the hermitage would certainly leave one to awe inspire the beauty of nature. If you are a traveller, want to explore places, and cherish your memories with infinite bounties of nature, you should not miss probably encountering the Skellig islands.