Over one thousand four hundred years ago a small group of men were searching for a place to practice their religion in solitude and isolation. These remarkable men ventured into the open ocean off southwest Ireland determined to build a monastery on one of the most extraordinary locations on earth.
The Skellig Islands are two massive rocks lying 12 kilometres out into the Atlantic Ocean. For their citadel the monks chose the larger of the two rocks- Skellig Michael and began building a retreat that remains to this day, one of the most remarkable testaments to human faith on earth.
To tame the sand stone of the Skelligs, to find living space, the monks first had to climb and to climb the needed steps. Up from the roaring waves, generation after genernation of men began to build a staircase to the heavens. Each step carved by hand from the solid rock with the simplest tools. In the Exhibition you can see some steps which have been built to show how they were constructed on Skellig Michael.
Finally the monks reached their summit. On the edge of a cliff almost 200 metres above the waves they built a monastery. The monastery has six corbelled stone beehive huts and two boat-shaped oratories, the stone built terraces, retaining walls and stairways are visible proof of such Early Christian Activity. Such was their skill and dedication the terraces and dry stone walls survive intact to this day, making it a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE of outstanding universal value, the worlds most striking example of early Christian architecture. A two thirds replica reconstruction of one of the cells can be seen in our Exhibition.