Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 10 of the Giant Irish Adventure

Today was the adventure we all were waiting for....a trip to Skellig Rocks!
The weather was rather inclement when we started out. The conditions at Skellig Michael is more important. Sometimes trips get cancelled because they can't safely disembark.
So we're happy to be going, whatever the weather.

We pass Lemon Rock, which meant nothing to me, but my grandchildren may recognize it as a location in the Harry Potter movie.
We pass Little Skellig...known for the second largest colony of Gannets in the world. We'll see it up close on the way back.

Our first glimpse of Skellig Michael, the larger of the two Islands. A Christian Monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century and remained continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century. 
The remains of the monastery, along with most of the island itself, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Notice the blue sky here...we are lucky.
Boats are not allowed to dock here...only tie up long enough for passengers to hop off onto the narrow stairs.
our climb to the Monastery begins here.
Dee waiting for everyone to safely disembark.
Then the boat must leave and come back to get us later.
This walkway was built to accommodate visitors.

We stop here for some history and instructions on how to safely negotiate the steps to the top.
Our first stop to catch our breath and look at the incredible view.

Another resting place.
That path leads to a place where the Monks would go to meditate in solitude. We can walk part way up it later if we want, haha.
But now we must finish climbing to the top for a Ranger talk.
I got a lot of butt shots of Ann because she was just ahead of me.
Near the entrance to the Monastery.
Skellig Michael remained in the possession of the Order of St. Augustine until 1578. Then ownership passed to the Butler family until the early 1820s.
The Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin purchased the land and erected two lighthouses on the Atlantic side of the island.

And we made it!
This is the grave of two children who died during the time the lighthouses were in operation. After their deaths it was decided that it was to dangerous to house lighthouse keepers and their families here in this remote place, due to the difficulty in getting to and from the island.
Several cisterns collected rainwater for the Monastery.
The Monks resided in these Beehive-shaped dwellings.
Inside a beehive.
Through the window of a small chapel you can see Small Skellig.
The Monastery graveyard.

Small Skellig as seen from the Monastery.

The Monks had more than one stairway to the top so they could come ashore in different places. You can see one of those narrow stairways below.

It was Lance's birthday. Elaine brought something to celebrate from up here.

An exit...

An old stairway...not the one we took.
You can see the helicopter pad that has been added. Fortunately no one needed it.

Katie, Danielle and Lance
Starting down...

Here comes Tina.
There are no fences, but there are warning signs about going off trail.

The other path we could have followed...
The small dwelling where Monks went into seclusion. We were not allowed up that far.
The bottom of the V is as far as tourists were allowed. The Monks went to the top of the peak at the right.
The grassy areas were used to graze cows, and gardens were planted on the island too.
Looking back the way we came.

The stairs leading back down.
Tina carefully placing her feet the way we were taught.

Here comes Ann.
These are the tiny residences for the Rangers who spend the season here.
Info about Skellig Michael

Gulls nesting

The island also has a population of Puffins at certain times of the year...but not now.
A seal and baby resting below.

Our boat awaits. You can see the narrow stairs we hop from to get back on the boat.
A gull feeding her chick.
As we leave another tour boat pulls up to the steps.
Another view of the original steps the Monks used.
Then we do a close cruise by Small Skellig to see all the Gannets.

And more seals.

Close up of the Gannets. They are related to the Blue-footed Boobies we saw in Baja.

A crevice through the island.

Back on the mainland we see an RV park atop the cliffs.
We stayed at the Moorings. We had to eat in the bar because the whole restaurant had been taken over by the film crew of Star Wars Episode VIII.
Watch for it in the theatre.

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