Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Skellig Michael

A few posts ago I mentioned some island failures; one of which was an aborted attempt to climb the south peak of Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry. (Okay, it's not a Scottish island). The ascent is described in what is one of the most incredible books on an island ever written: The Forgotten Hermitage of Skellig Michael. The link will take you to an on-line version of the book, including all its wonderful illustrations.

It is a straightforward walk up a steep path to get to the monastic ruins on the north peak, and the first photo shows my wife clinging to its summit rock with the dramatic pinnacle of the south peak off in the distance. 

Photo 2 of the south peak shows the site of the hermitage oratory and 'The Spit' at the top where a cross incised stone pillar once stood. Pilgrims would make their way up to the spit and then crawl out onto it to kiss the cross. Sadly the cross-stone fell into the sea in the 1970s. I set out to climb the peak, but I soon came to a narrow ledge that wound around a blind corner (see figure 17 in the above link). There was nothing below the ledge but a 400 foot drop to the rocks and sea. I could not do it, and turned back.

Although I had not made it to the south peak, seeing the cluster of beehive cells and oratories of the monastery on the north peak was a memorable experience.

1 comment:

  1. These beehives are fantastic! I can imagine the rugged wind whistling in the stones....