Weather prevents damage inspection on Skellig Michael

Boatman hopeful damage to access road can be repaired before visiting season starts

Pictures taken by Skellig boatman Seanie Murphy, showing damage on main tourist path from near landing area and given to OPW

Pictures taken by Skellig boatman Seanie Murphy, showing damage on main tourist path from near landing area and given to OPW

 

Weather has so far prevented inspectors from the Office of Public Works assessing damage to the main visitor landing area and path on Skellig Michael, the remote and exposed Unesco World Heritage monastic site, a sea journey of 13 km off the coast of Kerry.

However, the OPW is anxious to put in place arrangements to view the damage caused by wave damage or possible rock falls from higher ground.

Skellig boatman Seanie Murphy, who provided photographs of the damage to the OPW, said he is hopeful the damage to the Lighthouse Road, the main visitor access route, can be repaired in time for the opening of the Skellig season, which this year is in mid-May.

OPW guides and staff are resident on the island for the season until early October.

A safety review in 2010, conducted after two separate deaths on an exposed ledge on the lower part of the island in 2009, warned that a simple slip, because of the steep paths and rocky terrain could have deadly consequences.

It also found loose rock and debris were features of the island, particularly after heavy rainfall. Some rock falls had been “very significant” and had caused major damage on the Lighthouse Road – the area currently damaged – and had caused major damage in the past, the review by Byrne O’Cléirigh Ltd found.

An estimated 10,000 people visit Skellig Michael annually.