© Copyright Adam Ward and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
UPDATE1st June: Final confirmation that the boat trip tomorrow has just been given - this event is going to take place! Be prepared for some rain in the afternoon.
Skellig Michael (from Sceilig Mhichíl in the Irish language, meaning Michael's rock), also known as Great Skellig, is a steep rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean about 14.5 kilometres (9 miles) from the coast of County Kerry, Ireland. It is the larger of the two Skellig Islands. After probably being founded in the 7th century, for 600 years the island was a centre of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. The Gaelic monastery (now a well preserved ruin), is situated almost at the summit of the 230-metre-high rock became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is one of Europe's better known but least accessible monasteries.
Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved. The very spartan conditions inside the monastery illustrate the ascetic lifestyle practiced by early Irish Christians. The monks lived in stone 'beehive' huts (clochans), perched above nearly vertical cliff walls.
The skelligs are actually an extension of the Amorican Mountain Range which can be seen on the mainland.
The timing of the trip has been organised to coincide with the most interesting time in the year to see wildlife. Among many other birds only seen on offshore islands in Ireland are the puffins and their chicks will have just hatched at this time so they will be very busy flying in with beak-fulls of krill. They are fearless of humans and you won't need a powerful zoom lens to get some extreme close-up pictures.
© Copyright John Allan and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Be aware that this event has been given four star terrain rating for a reason. To get to the monasterey from the jetty, there are 600 steep, uneven steps with no hand rails or fences - an ascent of 230 metres (750 feet) in height. People have been hurt and even died climbing these steps so extreme care should be taken, especially on the way back down.
A number of small boat operators are licensed to sail a single boat to the island each day and typically the trip will cost around €45 per person. You will be responsible for booking your own crossing. I've booked a crossing with a company which is near my accomodation in Portmagee. Further details about my plans can be found here if you want to try to coordinate crossings and be on the same boat. There are other boats that operate from Portmagee and other nearby harbours too - but they all arrive at the island around the same time and leave roughly at the same time too - they just start from different ports.
Please be aware that crossings do not take place in times of bad weather (both wind and heavy rain due to the number of steep steps on the island, which can be slippery). Should this happen, the event and trip may have to be cancelled at short notice. We will have a rough idea a couple of days ahead whether or not the sailings will take place but be prepared for a short notice cancellation too.
Details of the exact time and location of the event itself on the island will be organised once we have a fair idea of who is going and when the sailings arrive but I imagine it will be around mid-day and probably in the region of the ancient monastery. Please register a “will attend” as early as you can as I shall be keeping everyone informed of details using the announcement facility.
Waterproofs are recommended to be worn during the crossing. Sturdy walking boots are highly recommended - boots or shoes that will give good grip. A change of clothing may also be a good plan - your boatsman will be able to reccomend what to take. A packed lunch is recommended as there are no facilities on the island itself.
There is now also a separate Geocaching event in the evening, held in Portmagee where a number of us are staying. This is open to all, not just those going to Skellig St Michael. Indeed, should the island event be cancelled, this event will still go ahead.
Obviously, cameras and fresh batteries are required. A pair of binoculars may be useful also. If sunny...bring the sun cream and a hat!
The date of this adventure is Saturday 2nd June.