Skellig Michael* Skellig Michael is the beautiful and ancient isolated monastic island off the coast of the Kerry Peninsula on the West coast of Ireland. Around this time of year I often have dreams of my home country of Ireland and although I was born in County Clare (the next county up !!), Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula often feature in my dreams as I so often spent holidays there.
Click here for a great video clip from a BAFTA Award winning BBC series 'COAST' with Alice Roberts. Alice visits one of the largest gannet colonies in the world and walks over 600 steps to the top of the Monastic outpost.
The poem that follows is a lovely one to reflect on too.
This morning’s good morning
Came swift and bright over the hill.
It burst the dawn-grey twilight
On the wings of a jackdaw
Sudden and sure of itself.
I can see Skellig Michael
Floating out on the grey-blue sea.
Its rugged peak, silhouetted
Against a stormy sky,
Appears and disappears
As the rain laden clouds
Pass over it
Covering the holy rock
With a gauzy curtain of rain,
Then lift and set it afire
With brilliant morning light.
How I long to go out there,
To climb its steep stairs
Hand-hewn so long ago
By monks so desperate for union
With their mysterious God
That they left the world behind,
Stepped off the edge into nothingness,
And never looked back.
It is abandoned now,
Silent but for the birds nesting there
And the wind howling over
The raw ruins of beehive cells
And the tiny church where
The Great Silence was broken
Six times each day by the monks
Praying the Hours together,
Six of them on the north wall,
Six on the south,
The abbot, alone at the altar
Intoning the first words of each psalm,
His voice heavy with age
And a settled sense of time.
The Ireland of their birth
Could be seen off in the distance,
But they no longer belonged to it.
Their world had shrunk down to the
Narrow gardens, the cold cells,
And the small chapel there
On those windy heights.
They had turned away from
The world as they had known it
For this monastery on the head of a pin,
Floating on the vast and endless sea,
Dedicated to spending out their lives
On that wind-wracked promontory,
Praising the God they’d never seen,
But whose Presence was as sure
As the rock beneath their feet.
Dan Doyle. "Skellig Michael." CERC.