“Skellig Michael: A Desert In the Ocean”
A snippet from a brilliant article and talk presented by (Brendan) Rob O’Gorman.
About seven miles off the ‘Ring of Kerry’ off the southwest coast of Ireland, there are a pair of islands known generically as ‘the Skelligs’.
The smaller of the two is a wild bird sanctuary, containing up to 25,000 mating pairs of birds.
The larger of the two has become associated with the Archangel Michael, and is popularly known as “Skellig Michael”.
But it has not always gone by this name, for in the late 6th/early 7th century, a group of Irish ascetics (monks) established themselves here – for them it was known as ‘Sceilig Figil’ or translated, Ocean-Rock Vigil (or Prayer).
It is not difficult to see why, for the entire island is one of verticality, constantly drawing the eye upwards toward the Heavenly Realm.
For many, this was their ‘place of resurrection’ a final place of rest, before departing this temporal (earthly) world for another heavenly one.
It was no doubt Skellig’s ‘otherworldly’‘ quality that lead the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw to exclaim: “I tell you, [Skellig] belongs to no world that you and I have ever lived and worked in! It is part of a dream world…
Whoever has not stood in the lacht [graveyard] on the summit of that cliff, among the beehive dwellings and their beehive oratory, does not know Ireland through and through…”
the full article can be read here