Call for safety rope after Skellig death


THE AMERICAN man who died on Sunday after falling on the Skellig Michael heritage site off the coast of Co Kerry has been named as Joseph Gaughan (77) from Pennsylvania.

There have been renewed calls for safety measures on the island.

Mr Gaughan was with three members of his family, including his wife. He had been holidaying in the area and had completed the steep climb to the monastic settlement on the island. He was on his way down when he fell several feet from the path.

The emergency services were called to the scene shortly after 1pm in a rescue attempt co-ordinated by the nearby Valentia Coastguard. Mr Gaughan received medical assistance on the Skellig which is 12km off the mainland, but was pronounced dead on the mainland at about 2pm.

Local councillor Michael Cahill has again called for safety measures, especially near the top of the climb. Three years ago he moved a council motion on the matter, referring to the death of a German tourist and again suggested it during the consultation phase of the current management plan 2008-2018.

However, then-minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works Tom Parlon, ruled out erecting the rope railing on the steep sides of the monastic hermitage, saying it would take from the site’s world heritage status and “lend a false sense of security” to visitors.

The view that a handrail would detract from the site was included in the management plan, which also warned of the “inherent dangers” for visitors to the island outpost, one of three Unesco world heritage sites in Ireland.

Mr Cahill yesterday said the rock was “an extremely dangerous place ” and he still felt strongly a rope railing should be put in place.

“The works I was proposing would not in any way interfere with the site,” Mr Cahill said.