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Skellig Michael

Photo © Martin Gray. View all images in our Skellig Michael Photo Gallery.
Photo © Martin Gray.
Photo © David Decharte.
Photo © David Decharte.
Photo © Martin Gray.
Photo © David Decharte.
Photo © David Decharte.

Skellig Michael (Irish Sceilig Mhichíl, "Michael's rock"), also known as Great Skellig, is one of the most famous and yet least accessible medieval monasteries.


Skelling Michael was built in 588 AD on a steep rocky island about 12 kilometers off the coast in County Kerry, Ireland. It survived a Viking raid in 823 and was significantly expanded with a new chapel around the start of the second millennium.

The site was abandoned around 1100. Starting in the 1500s, Skellig Michael became a popular destination for annual pilgrimages, but attracted no permanent residents.

What to See

The extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged most visitors, leaving the site exceptionally well preserved. The very spartan conditions inside the monastery illustrates the ascetic lifestyle practiced by early Irish christians. The monks lived in stone "beehive" huts (clochans), perched above nearly vertical cliff walls.

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.

Restrictions have recently been imposed on tourist access in the belief that tourists were causing a worrying degree of damage to the site, particularly with regard to the ancient stone steps up the rock.

Alternative methods that would preserve the site while allowing public access are now being considered.

Quick Facts on Skellig Michael

Site Information
Names:Skellig Michael
State:County Kerry
Faiths:Christianity; Celtic
Feat:Spectacular Setting
Dates:588; expanded c. 1000
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:51.772155° N, 10.538764° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Skellig Michael

Below is a location map and aerial view of Skellig Michael. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. Skelling Michael - UNESCO World Heritage
  2. Skelling Michael - Sacred Sites
  3. To Skellig Michael, Monastery in the Sky - Christianity Today, March/April 2005
  4. Take a peak - Sydney Morning Herald, September 21, 2002

More Information

Article Info

Title:Skellig Michael
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:01/29/2011
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ireland/skellig-michael">Skellig Michael</a>