7 Interesting Facts About the Skellig Islands
The Skellig Islands, including Skellig Michael and Little Skellig (also known as Sceilig Mhichíl and Sceilig Bheag respectively in Irish), are remote islands located off the southwestern coast of Ireland. The Skellig Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination, known for their stunning natural beauty, rich history, and unique wildlife. In this blog, we will explore seven fascinating facts about the Skellig Islands.
1. The Islands Are a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Skellig Michael (or Great Skellig) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. This is due to its outstanding universal value as an early Christian monastic site, as well as its unique and exceptional natural beauty. The island is home to a 6th-century monastic settlement that is considered one of the most important early Christian sites in Europe.
2. Skellig Michael Has Centuries of History
The monastic settlement on Skellig Michael was established in the 6th century and was inhabited until around the 12th century. The monks who lived there were part of the Order of St. Augustine, and they were known for their devotion to learning and scholarship. In addition to the monastery, there are also the remains of a later medieval church on the island, as well as several beehive huts that were used by the monks.
3. Star Wars Was Filmed at Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael gained international fame in recent years when it was used as a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as its sequel; The Last Jedi. The island was used as the location for the planet Ahch-To, where the Jedi Temple is located. The island's unique and otherwordly landscape was a perfect fit for the famous movie universe.
4. The Islands Are Home to Unique Wildlife
The Skellig Islands are a haven for wildlife, both on land and its surrounding waters. Some of these includes gannets and kittiwakes on the islands, with many dolphins, seals and basking sharks in the surrounding waters. However, the Skellig Islands are most famous for their large colony of puffins - a rare bird in Ireland that can only be found in some limited coastal locations.
5. Visiting the Islands Requires Planning(!)
Due to their remote location, the islands can be difficult to reach and are only accessible via boat. Thankfully, there are many boat ride and boat tour companies that provide transport to the islands at varying costs. Just make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast, as on a day of poor weather you might need to expect a bumpy ride to the islands!
6. Skellig Michael is an Archaeological Site
Skellig Island is an important archaeological site, and the remains of the monastic settlement provide valuable insights into early Christian life in Ireland. The beehive huts on the island are particularly interesting, as they were built using a technique that has been lost to time.
7. The Islands Make a Popular Tourist Destination
Despite its remote location, Skellig Michael is a popular tourist destination. Visitors come to the island to explore the monastic settlement, take in the stunning natural beauty, and experience a sense of isolation and solitude. The island is only open to visitors during the summer months, though access is limited to protect the fragile ecosystem.
Something for Everyone
The above are just some interesting facts about the Skellig Islands and why they make such a unique and fascinating destination for tourists to visit with its rich history, stunning natural beauty and important archaeological significance. So, whether you're a fan of all things Star Wars, have a love for nature, or simply want to enjoy being in a remote and beautiful corner of Ireland, Skellig Islands is definitely worth a visit!