|Our visit to Skellig Michael, September 22, 2012 Helen Tilston|
For several years, The Skellig Islands known as Skellig Michael (Gaelic: Sceilig Mhichíl or Sceilig Mór ) and Little Skellig in the Atlantic, approximately ten miles from Portmagee, Co Kerry, IRELAND have been calling me. I had read George Bernard Shaw's letter to his friend Jackson which was written on 18 September 1910 from the Parknasila Hotel of his expedition to Skellig Michael.
|Our boat in the quiet waters as we depart Portmagee|
Two weeks ago our confirmation phone call to Boatman, Brendan Casey, ascertained that sailing was "a go". Our twelve seater boat departed at 10:00 a.m. from Portmagee. We were warned to wear warm clothing, sturdy hiking shoes and bring water and a snack. Our schedule was to spend two hours on Great Skellig and climb the 600 steps to the top of the rock and view the ruins of monastic life.
The harbour was calm and the day sunny and warm.
Skellig Michael A Christian monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century, and was continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century.The remains of this monastery, along with most of the island itself, were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996. In Geeorge Bernard Shaw's letter, he describes Skellig Michael from which I quote "AT the top amazing beehives of flat rubble stones, each overlapping the one below until the circle meets in a dome - cells, oratories, churches, and outside them cemeteries, wells, crosses, all clustering like shells on a prodigious rock pinnacle with precipes sheer down on every hand and lodged on the projecting stone coffins made apparently by giants and dropped there God knows how.
Most incredible of all, the lighthouse keeper will not take a tip, but sits proud melancholy and haunted in his kitchen after placing all his pantry at our disposal"
|Our 12 seater boat awaiting passengers, I have a seat starboard side, within chatting distance of Our Boatman, Brendan|
Two boats departed five minutes apart. As we exited the calm channel and enjoyed viewing rural life from our comfortable boat this was soon to change. Suddenly the ocean began to swell and waves began forming and we clung tightly (I have bruises on my arms and legs from leaning and clinging) A wave washed overboard on our port side and the passengers in its path got soaked. An unusually large wave struck out boat and suddenly sick bags were distributed by Captain Brendan with more than half our passengers now sea-sick. Oil skin coats were also given to us. As we neared Skellig Michael, our Captain radioed the other boat and it was determined we could not land on Skellig Michael - the waves washing over the dock were 7 feet high. We were disappointed but understood.
|A Gannet with a wingspan of of close to 72 inches screeched by me, as if to say "I know you are disappointed"|
|The ocean swelled some more|
|Waves lapping on our dock area, preventing a landing|
|Little Skellig Island, photo Helen Tilston|
|Little Skellig white with gannets and their guano (photo Helen Tilston)|
The roar of waves as they pummelled the rocks, the screeching sound of the gannets as our boat rocked along and recalling life for the monks who lived, self sufficient on Skellig Michael was my meditation on this Sunday morning. I shall never forget this experience and look forward to re-visiting Skellig Michael soon - perhaps during the month of June when the puffins are in residence.
|Puffin on Skellig Michael (photo Brendan Casey)|
Captain Brendan switched on the radio and RTE Lyric FM was playing this tune, which will be associated with The Skelligs
Have you visited Skellig Michael?