Little Skellig seen through a window of the hermitage of Skellig Michael
The Skellig Islands (Irish: Na Scealaga), once known as the Skellocks, are two small, steep, and rocky islands lying about 13 km west of Bolus Head on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. They are famous for their thriving gannet and puffin populations, and for an early Christian monastery that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The smaller island is Little Skellig (Sceilig Bheag in Irish). It is closed to the public, and holds Ireland's largest and the world's second-largest Northern Gannet colony, with almost 30,000 pairs. It is about 1.5 km eastnortheast of Great Skellig.
Also known as Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl in Irish), this is the larger of the two islands, with two peaks rising to over 230 m above sea level. With a sixth-century Christian monastery perched at 160 m above sea level on a ledge close to the top of the lower peak, Great Skellig is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Both of the Skellig islands are well known for their seabird colonies, and together comprise one of the most important seabird sites in Ireland, both for the population size and for the species diversity.
Among the breeding birds are European Storm-Petrels, Northern Gannets, Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Guillemots, Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins (with 4,000 or more puffins on Great Skellig alone). Smaller numbers of Choughs and Peregrine Falcons can also be seen.
The surrounding waters teem with life also. Grey Seals are common, and Basking Sharks, Minke Whales, Dolphins, Beaked Whale, and Leatherback Turtles have also been recorded. The islands have many interesting recreational diving sites due to the clear water, an abundance of life, and underwater cliffs down to 60 meters (200 feet).
The 1998 children's book Skellig by David Almond
Tristan Jones, in his sailing/travel novel "ICE!" writes of a visit to the Skellig Isles en route from England to North America in 1961.
- "ICE!" by Tristan Jones ISBN 0-7592-0772-0
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