The main reason that Skellig Michael is famous today is that both Skellig islands appeared in both the 2015 and the 2017 Star Wars films Episodes VII and VIII. Particularly so in the most recent film, Skellig Michael featured heavily as Luke Skywalker’s island hideaway, where he trained Rey in the ways of becoming a Jedi. The iconic triangular silhouette of the Skellig Islands makes the Skelligs both unique and immediately recognisable – and entirely unforgettable!
Historically, Skellig Michael was inhabited from around the 6th century onwards when a group of monks withdrew from civilisation and took residence on the island. Between the 6th and 8th centuries, a monastery was founded on Skellig Michael and the famous stone ‘beehive huts’ were built by the Christian monks as habitations for those who chose to reside on the island.
These Beehive huts were where the monks of the Island lived – there was little room for luxury
Historically, Skellig Michael was a symbol of friendship between the Vikings and the Christian monks on the island, as Olaf Tryggvason, future king of Norway, was baptised on the island in 993 AD. In typical Viking fashion, this ‘friendship’ only came into existence after the Vikings attempted to raid the area in 823 AD.
Skellig Michael is also known for the number of steps on the island! Nobody seems to agree on the exact number of steps; some people will say there are 618 others will say there are 670 steps, but everyone tends to agree that there are between 600 – 700 stone steps. As you climb the rugged stones up 600 ft (180 meters), feel the historical connection with the monks who lived here as you imagine them climbing up these same steps every day hundreds of years ago.
Looking out over Little Skellig from Skellig Michael
The iconic location is famous for making an appearance in Irish legend – the myth is that the king of the world, Daire Domhain, used Skellig Michael as preparation ground for a magnificent battle with legendary hunter-warrior Finn MacCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill in Irish) and his band of warriors known as the army of Fianna.
A great place for birdwatching, Skellig Michael and the Little Skellig are important sea bird habitat. In fact, in 1986 both Skelligs were classified as a Special Protection Area. Skellig Michael’s oldest inhabitants are a variety of different seabirds – the most famous of Skellig Michael’s seabirds are the iconic and adorable Atlantic puffins!
Skellig Michael’s most famous resident – the puffin
Other Bird Species Include:
- Storm Petrel
- Manx Shearwater
A number of different types of sea birds decorate the sea that surrounds the Skellig Islands
Take a Trip to a Galaxy Far, Far Away and Learn More About Skellig Michael and its Connections to Star Wars:
Escaping the world of fantasy and venturing back into the real world the Great Skellig Island is also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.