The Skellig Michael, (also known as The Grea
Skellig michael

The Skellig Michael

t Skellig

is a steep, rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean, located a few kilometres from County Kerry, Ireland. It was discovered in 558 AD. It was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.


The Skellig Michael was founded around the 6th century A.D and was a centre of religious life for Irish Christians monks. In 823 A.D the monastery on the Skellig had survived numerous viking raids. In the second millenium it was expaned notably with an added chapel. The 'population' of the island was considerably small hundreds of years ago with only 12 monks and an abbot. However in the 12th century they all abandoned the island to live at a different monastery on the
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However after about 400 years after the island became a popular destination for pilgrimages and journeys. however the island could not sustain any permanent residents. The island is now habited but by lighthouse keepers who maintain the two lighthouse that were built there in the 19th century, one of which still operates although it was largely rebuilt in 1960 and has been automated since 1980.

In Celtic mythology, The Skellig Michael is said to be the burial grounds of Ir, one of the sons of Miled who perished at the hands of the Tuatha De Danaan during the 'Coming of the Gael'. Ir's son, Eimhir, would inherit the province of Ulster after the battle of Tailltin. Notable Irish heroes such as Fergus, son of Rogh) and Conall Cearnach of the Red Branch belonged to the line of Ir.

Geography QuestionsEdit

What is it?
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The Skellig Michael (which means Michael's Rock) is a medieval monastery built on a steep rocky island. It was expanded with a chapel in in th second millenium. It is now a popular tourist destination but does not have any residents.

Where is it?Edit

The Skellig Michael is situated 14. 3 kilometres off the coast of Count Kerry, Ireland. It's coordinates are N51 46 18.984 W10 32 18.996.

Why is it there?Edit

The Skellig Michael was built to be a monastic place for Irish Christian monks for over 600 years. Until it became a tourist destination in the 14th century AD. It is said that it is a resting place for Miled who perished at the hands of the Tuatha De Danaan during the 'Coming of the Gael'

What are the effects of it being there?Edit

There are many good effects of the Skellig being there such as it having a rich history that can tell us a lot about the happenings of that time. It also gives home to many seabirds although it can have a negative effect on htem
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as this may not be a suitable environment for them. A negative effect on it being there is that it has been damaged and weathered over the years and there is a lot of potential safety hazards which have caused 2 deaths, both in 2009.

How is it changing over time?Edit

There is concern that he number of on-coming tourists are causing damage to the site such as falling rocks and collapsing structures. Because of this the islad has restricted access to certain areas.

Should it be like this?Edit

The Skellig Michael should be the way it is as it is a very old structure but if we look after it can remain this way so it will still be available for future generations.

What groups are in
volved? What do different groups think?

The grups that are involved are the 'Office of Public Works' as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The views that the 'Office of public Works' has tried to reconstruct the site, whilst the World Heritage Site thought this was a bad idea. To see more on this read the Conservation Section.

What action is appropriate?Edit

The action that is appropriate is that we look after this site and preserve it for as long as possible by taking simple actions such as not litering, being careful not to go into restricted areas and generally being careful whilst visiting there.


The Skellig Michael is classified as a human environment as it was built by Irish Monks years ago but it does have some physical aspects aswell.

Human Elements

Being a monastery built my monks the Skellig Michael is mainly a human-built environment. In 1826 a lighthouse was built on the island and in 1986 some restoration work was done and an official tourist bureau associated with the island was established. The Skellig also has a cluster of six 'beehive huts'. These are where monks and hermits lived in these when they wanted to live far remote for normal life.

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Physical ElementsEdit

The Skellig Michael does have quite a few phyusical elements. The island itself is a physical element as it is made from steeep rocks and pillars. Another big aspect of it's physical elements are the flora & fauna. The island itself is an important sebird site with over 10 species of seabird on the island. Including the the Atlantic Puffin (with over 4,000 on the island alone), Fulmars, Razorbills, Choughs and much more.


The conservation of the Skellig Michael is entrusted into the Irish agency, referred to as ' The Office of Pub
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lic Works'. In the year 2008 the Office of Public Works attempted to reconstruct some of the features of the sites. Although this was criticized by the UNESCO World Heritage Center because they felt that the agency had failed to conduct sufficient study and research before undertaking the reconstruction work.

Treaties & RegulationsEdit

On the 2nd of April, 1979 a council directive saw the instittution of a new regulation (79/449/EEC) that saw to the protection of wild birds on the island by creating specific sites on the island for the study of these birds known as Special Protection sites.The effects of the regulation also state s that action that violates this law is considered an offense.


The Committee decided to inscribe the nominated property on the basis of cultural criteria (iii) and (iv) considering that the site is of outstanding universal value being an exceptional, and in many respects unique example of an early religious settlement deliberately sited on a pyramidal rock in the ocean, preserved because of a remarkable environment. It illustrates, as no other site can, the extremes of a Christian monasticism characterizing much of North Africa, the Near East and Europe.

The UNESCO World Heritage List gave the Skellig Michael a cultural rating of (iii) and (iv) ( on a scale from i-vi). This rating was given because it had great universal value and it was a one-of-a-kind type of landmark that could give insight into the plight of the early Irish Christians. It was also chosen for its 'remarkable environment' and that it shows the harsh conditions of Christian religion.

Why it deserves to be on the World Heritage ListEdit

When you think of things that would be heritage-listed your main thoughts would be landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza or the Great Barrier Reef. You may not have heard of this landmark and you may not think it has the same 'Wow factor' or it's just a boring pile of rocks but nonetheless i think it should be on the list, and pretty soon
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Not only is it a beautiful site, it is also an important part of history.

you will too. The reason I think that the Skellig Michael deserves to be on this list is because it is one-of-a-kind and the Skellig Islands are the only place like it in the world. It should also be on the list because it represents a way of live and also it is a jewel aspect of Christianity. It also may be the last evidence of that type of life.

But not only is an important part of Irish History but also could be an important part of history in this school. The very first catholics to arrive in Australia were on the first fleet where most of the prisoners were Irish convicts. If it wasn't for the influence and introduction of Christianity then this school may have not been built 13 years ago. So in conclusion, the Skellig Michael should remain on the UNESCO World Heritage List because it is one of hte best examples of Irish Christian Life in ireland but also is an important part of Irish heritage.


Skellig Michael- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (online) Retrieved 17.2.2011

Skellig Michael (online) Retrieved 1.3.2011

Skellig Michael- UNESCO World Heritage Site (online) Retrieved 16.2.2011

Skellig Michael, World Heritage Site (online) Retieved 28.2.2011