The Gods were smiling on us that day, long ago when we travelled out to the windswept island of Sceilg Mhichíl (or Skellig Michael), eleven kilometres off the coast of Kerry. What a special place! Sacred. Unique. Awesome.
It is not known when the monks first arrived on the island. The first definite reference to monastic activity is a record of the death of Suibhne of Skellig, dating from the 8th century, but St. Fionán is thought to have founded the monastery here in the 6th century. But I remember well when Fionnuala and I clambered onto the rock and stood in silence, looking up at its great height and trying to imagine what it must’ve been like for the monks, risking life and limb to establish a place of prayer and retreat ‘far from the madding crowd’. Then we made our way up the rugged stairs…
Sceilg Mhicíl is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of only three such sites in Ireland, the others being Newgrange and the Giant’s Causeway. This is a serious responsibility, demanding a serious engagement by the Irish state with the spiritual, aesthetic, scholarly and environmental aspects of this unique island.
Mór mo náir – Mo chlann féin do dhíol a máthair
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