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Skellig Michael UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 1996, Skellig Michael / Sceilig Michíl was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The iconic island dominates the westerly horizon of the Atlantic coast in South Kerry. Due to its remoteness and extreme isolation the site has been extraordinarily preserved, with the UNESCO World Heritage Convention describing it as iconic and the best example of Early Medieval island monastic sites.

The history of Skellig Michael dates back to 600AD and holds stories of suppressed Catholics who sought refuge on the island. Today it houses the remains of an impressive Christian Monastery, which derives from the 6th-8th century and remained occupied by the St. Fionan’s monks until at least the 12th century. The fantastic stone beehive huts, as seen on the island today, were home to the monks who settled there all those years ago. A little more than in most households today, the monks only had to descend 670 steps each time they wanted to catch food, as their diet mainly consisted of fish and seabirds. The monks fled sometime around the 13th century and the island soon became a very popular pilgrimage destination.

Famously and most recently, Skellig Michael made an Oscar worthy performance appearing in the latest of the Star Wars franchise. 

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Stories from Kerry

Grounded in heritage yet open to ideas, Kerry is a place to gain and share perspective. Keep exploring the county with our latest blogs.