Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cliffside Path - Skellig Michael, Ireland.

Cliffside Path - Skellig Michael, Ireland.

Skellig Michael, or Great Skellig, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, 11.6 km west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.A Christian monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century, and was continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century.The remains of this monastery, along with most of the island itself, were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1996.Skellig Michael was uninhabited prior to the foundation of its monastery.Folklore holds that Ir, son of Milesius, was buried on the island, and a text from the 8th or 9th century states that Duagh, King of West Munster, fled to "Scellecc" after a feud with the Kings of Cashel, although it is not known whether these events actually took place.The monastery's exact date of foundation is not known.The first definite reference to monastic activity on the island is a record of the death of "Suibhini of Skelig" dating from the 8th century, however Saint Fionán is claimed to have founded the monastery in the 6th century.The site had been dedicated to Saint Michael by at least 1044, however this dedication may have occurred as early as 950, around which time a new church was added to the monastery (typically done to celebrate a consecration) which was called Saint Michael's Church.The monastery remained continuously occupied until the 12th or 13th century.During this time, the climate around Skellig Michael became colder and more prone to storms, and this, along with changes to the structure of the Irish Church, prompted the community to abandon the island and move to the abbey in Ballinskelligs.Skellig Michael remained in the possession of the Order of St. Augustine until the dissolution of the Ballinskelligs abbey by Elizabeth I in 1578.Ownership was then passed to the Butler family with whom it stayed until the early 1820s, when the Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin purchased the island from John Butler of Waterville in a compulsory purchase order.The Corporation constructed two lighthouses on the Atlantic side of the island, as well as associated living quarters, all of which was completed by 1826.The Office of Public Works took the remains of the monastery into guardianship in 1880, and repaired certain collapsed structures, before purchasing the island from the Commissioners of Irish Lights.



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