Skellig Michael is most attractive and incredible island located at 14.5 kilometres from the coast of County Kerry, Ireland. Founded in 7th century, this mysterious monastery of Ireland is also recognized as Great Skellig. It is the place which is rich in wonderful natural surroundings. It was listed as a “World Heritage Site” in 1996 by UNESCO.
It is one of the least reachable famous monasteries of Europe. Name of this island is based on Irish language that means ‘Michael’s Rock.’ As the name suggest, it includes many rocking things. This monastery is situated on 230 meters height of mountain. Skellig Michael’s distance discourages tourists to visit it. It is the second biggest place of ornithology in the world as a home of many seabirds including 27,000 pairs of gannets.
People were aware about significant of this island in the ancient time through myths but real history of Skellig Michael started in the 7th century when monastery was founded close to the peak. Skellig Michael became well known place for annual pilgrimages in beginning of 16th century. However, there was no permanent resident at that period. Two lighthouses were made in the 19th century and this time Skellig Michael became populated place due to altering rota of lighthouse keepers. Second lighthouse was reconstructed in 1960 and still it is operated.
Lots of Viking raids were survived on Skellig Michael’s monastery in 9th century. This was considerably extended due to the new chapel in beginning of second millennium. Population of Skellig Michael was never become large; it was limited to around 12 monks and an abbot. For more than 600 years, Monastic life was persevered at this monastery.
It is easy to envisage early life of Irish Christian monks and how they felt difficulty for day to day existence. Their beehives shaped huts show emptiness of their life. Steep sides of the rick makes this monastery itself terraced. Three voyage of stairway prelude to Christ’s Valley, a small U-shaped depression among the peaks of Skellig Michael rising 130 meters over the ocean level. There is an evidence of garden which may be utilized by the monks to cultivate vegetables.
Natural traits of Skellig Michael
Landmarks of Skellig Michael contain Needles Eye, the Hermitage, Spit and Christ's Valley. Formed by the huge fissure, Needles Eye is narrow rock flue. The Hermitage is the product of monastic community of Skellig yet it is different from eremitic monastery proper. The spit is a narrow crest situated on Southwestern peak of the Skellig with three meters length and two meters width.
Christ’s Valley is also called as Christ’s Saddle. It is small depression in U form rising 130 meters over the ocean level. The Valley terminates in Northwestern peak and Southwestern peak. Sometime strand of cloud adds beauty to the peaks of monastery and gives it volcanic impression. It is assumed that tourist may damage the site especially prehistoric stone steps up the rock so the decision is taken to restrict the tourist access.
Mystery of Skellig Michael
After 7th century, it became the centre of Spartan life for Irish Christian monks for approximately 600 years. There was no evidence of population at this island and why monks had prepared this historical monastery before thousands of years has not been known until now. The mystery of abandonment of Skellig is not solved satisfactory still now.
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