Skellig Michael (or Great Skellig) is the larger of the two Skellig Islands and home to the ruined remains of a Christian monastery dating between the 6th and 8th century. It was inhabited by monks until the late 12th century and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The monks lived in stone, beehive shaped huts and led simple lives fishing, growing vegetables, praying and studying. They deliberately sought the solitude of the island to bring them closer to God and it is hard not to be touched by the spiritual aura of the place and be impressed by the fortitude of these men.
The Star Wars Connection
Irish Poet George Bernard Shaw described Skellig Michael in 1910 as an “incredible, impossible, mad place” that’s “part of our dream world”. The landscape is so ‘other-worldly’ it was chosen by George Lucas as a set for part of the Star Wars movie ‘The Force Awakens’.
It is possible to book a boat trip to Skellig Michael and climb the 618 steps to the top to experience this wondrous place for yourself. Boats leave from Portmagee Harbour.
The neighbouring smaller island of Little Skellig is closed to the public and is home to a colony of over 27,000 pairs of gannets, the second largest colony in the world.