Sunday, December 4, 2016

19. Kerry - Sceilig Mhichíl

Situated off the coast of Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula, lies the island of Sceilig Mhichíl. It is one of two prominent land masses that emerge from the ocean and which are popularly known as the Skelligs. What sets it apart from its smaller nearby sibling, Sceilg Bheag, are the Christian monastic settlements that lies near its summit. Led up to by a steep stone stair, these structures are characterised by their beehive design and were built early in its 600 years of existence from the 6th century to the 12th.
On the bouncy boat ride over from Portmagee, it is easy to wonder how the group of monks, led by St Fionán who is said to have founded the place, must have decided on whether they would move to Sceilig Mhichíl. You can only imagine they weighed it up with a list of pros and cons.
  • Peace.
  • Solitude.
  • One of the world’s largest gannet colonies next door on Sceilig Bheag.
  • Great drying for the clothes.
  • Peace.
  • Puffins with hundreds of these colourfully crazy-looking beaked birds for company.
  • Low smog levels.
  • Great views over the whole world during those few annual days of Atlantic sunshine.
  • The perfect hideaway for a Jedi Knight trying to keep a low profile.
  • Peace.
  • Nearly 12 kilometres off the county in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Atlantic storms.
  • No shops nearby.
  • Limited parking.
  • No chance of rescue.
  • Atlantic storms.
  • Terrible mobile phone coverage.
  • Bird poo.
  • Atlantic storms.

Whether it was the peace or the puffins that swung it in the end they decided to move. And if you don’t mind heights, sea travel and the wet ankles you might have to endure to get out here, reaching their simple but stunning beehive huts on one of those rare sunny days you realise it was the right decision.

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