Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Skellig Michael

D2D Thursday, 4 pm - The majestic monastic rock of Skellig Michael may be the austere epitome of a rugged and solitary Atlantic outpost, but this final turning point of the 270-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2023 has been tending towards the pussy cat mode by serving up gentler east winds and slower speeds for the mixed flotilla of craft chasing the out-of-sight leading finisher, the Cookson 50 Privateer (Ron O’Hanley, New York YC).

The Cookson 50 Privateer (Ron O’Hanley, New York YC) under Code Zero in Killiney Bay during the opening hours of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2023 Photo: AfloatThe Cookson 50 Privateer (Ron O’Hanley, New York YC) under Code Zero in Killiney Bay during the opening hours of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2023 Photo: Afloat

Thus although the final 20 miles up Dingle Bay may be the most scenically spectacular of the entire course, as the wind eased the adrenalin pumped at a slower rate if it still pumped at all. The little Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl from Kinsale, two-handed with Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt and sailing in waters where they were on their way a year ago to being winners of Kinsale YC’s inaugural Inishtearaght Race, found themselves at one stage near the Skelligs looking at 6 knots, when this morning they’d been zinging along at twice that speed.

Frank Whelan’s big Elliott 57 Opal from Greystones has finished second in line honours in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2023 Photo: AfloatFrank Whelan’s big Elliott 57 Opal from Greystones has finished second in line honours in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2023 Photo: Afloat

Up ahead in Dingle, Frank Whelan’s big Elliott 57 Opal from Greystones crossed the finish line at 13:30, thereby becoming the only other boat which will beat the 24-hours for the course. But with a higher rating and a very clear shortfall on the water, they caused no bother to the crew of Privateer.

Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom from Howth Photo: AfloatRobert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom from Howth Photo: Afloat

Paul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockbill VIPaul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockbill VI Photo: Afloat

This afternoon’s speeds only seem to be slow because, until the Skellig, everyone had been going so fast. Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom from Howth is going to be third to finish; she’s currently on course and on 7.9 knots in the middle of Dingle Bay, while the next in line, the Cullen/Biggs First 50 Checkmate XX (Howth YC) has pushed back up to 9 knots.

Searcher sailors, from left, Pete Smyth helming, Nick Smyth on mainsheet and Maurice O'Connell trimming the headsail Photo: AfloatSearcher sailors, from left, Pete Smyth helming, Nick Smyth on mainsheet and Maurice O'Connell trimming the headsail Photo: Afloat

Astern off Valentia Island, Paul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockbill VI is finding enough pressure for 8 knots, keeping her ahead of the astonishing Cinnamon Girl at 7.8 knots, while CG, in turn, stays clear of the Sunfast 36 Searcher (Pete Smyth, National YC), whose crew must be getting very fed up with contemplating Cinnamon Girl’s shapely hindquarters every time they look ahead.

The little Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl from Kinsale, two-handed with Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt The little Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl from Kinsale, two-handed with Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt onboard Photo: Afloat

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle
Tagged under

Skellig Michael is expected to re-open to visitors this weekend, weather permitting, after resolution of an industrial dispute involving its guides and staff.

Staff members of trade union Siptu have voted unanimously in favour of the proposal to introduce a new allowance for working offshore at the UNESCO world heritage site 12km west of Kerry’s Iveragh peninsula.

The agreement was brokered with their employer, the Office of Public Works (OPW), through the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

There had been fears that re-opening of the visitor season on May 13th could be delayed by the dispute, which arose after withdrawal of a “country allowance” for guides and staff.

The subsistence of 181.69 euro a week was an additional tax-free payment to compensate staff living away from home in shared temporary accommodation with no running water during the 25-week visitor season.

Guides and maintenance staff were informed that the Revenue Commissioners believed the “country allowance” did not comply with tax rules as they were not away from their “ base of operations”, as in Skellig Michael

Siptu industrial organiser Jay Power confirmed that the “country allowance” was not restored, but a new “bespoke” arrangement was concluded which addresses loss of earnings and meets Revenue Commissioners compliance requirements.

“This was on the basis of the very specific nature of the job and requirements that the Siptu – OPW maintenance and guides members do during the Skellig Michael season,” he said.”

“The new agreement gives certainty to members earnings and ensures that the excellent service that our members provide on Skellig Michael – in very trying conditions - can continue unhindered,” he said.

Guides and maintenance staff will also be reimbursed for monies lost from the time the previous allowance was withdrawn last season.

It is understood an independent review of pay and conditions for all staff on the rock will also take place.

Skellig Michael's visitor season has become busier than ever since the location was used for Star Wars filming.

Staff and guides are required to undergo periodic safety training, due to the risks involved on the rock where there have been visitor fatalities and injuries over the years.

The OPW said that Skellig Michael’s re-opening on Saturday(May 13th) “will, of course, be dependent on favourable weather, sea and island conditions”.

“ The OPW and union partners reached an agreement at WRC conciliation which addresses the issues of OPW employees assigned to Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael), “the OPW said.

Skellig Michael was recently announced as one of ten global sites participating in a climate change adaptation project, entitled “Preserving Legacies”, funded by the National Geographic Society and Manulife.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Skellig Michael’s re-opening to visitors next month may be delayed if an industrial dispute is not resolved.

As The Sunday Independent reports, the UNESCO world heritage island site is due to open for the 2023 season on May 13th.

However, a dispute over withdrawal of an offshore allowance for staff has been referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The “country allowance” was paid during the summer season by the Office of Public Works (OPW), which manages Skellig Michael 12 km west of Kerry’s Iveragh peninsula.

The subsistence of 181.69 euro a week was an additional tax-free payment to compensate staff living away from home in shared temporary accommodation with no running water during the 25-week visitor season.

Guides and maintenance staff were informed that the Revenue Commissioners believed the “country allowance” did not comply with tax rules as they were not away from their “ base of operations”, as in Skellig Michael.

The OPW said that it is “currently engaged with SIPTU in the WRC in relation to a matter involving OPW employees assigned to Sceilg Mhichíl”.

“As the process is ongoing and we are continuing to explore options with SIPTU, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point,”an OPW spokeswoman said.

Siptu industrial organiser Jay Power said that the union was “proactively looking to resolve the situation” over the allowance, and said he was “hopeful” that the opening would not be delayed.

“We have put proposals to the OPW to resolve the situation in the interim,” he said.

Skellig Michael was recently announced as one of ten global sites participating in a climate change adaptation project, entitled “Preserving Legacies”, funded by the National Geographic Society and Manulife.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Skellig Michael has been selected to join a new global initiative to safeguard sites of cultural significance from the impact of climate change.

The UNESCO world heritage site known as Sceilg Mhichíl is to become part of the “Preserving Legacies” project, according to the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the National Monuments Service (NMS).

The project “will equip communities worldwide with the tools to accurately anticipate and assess worsening and future climate impacts on culture, and help them turn that scientific knowledge into action to safeguard sites”, they state.

“Sceilg Mhichíl will be one of ten global sites initially involved in the project, which is funded by the National Geographic Society and Manulife,” the OPW says.

“ There are two primary sites: the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras and Petra, Jordan and eight observer sites, of which Sceilg Mhichíl is one,” it says.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD said it was “ an honour for Ireland to be part of this global programme led by National Geographic”.Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD - “ an honour for Ireland to be part of this global programme led by National Geographic”

These eight observer sites are: Angkor Archeological Park, Cambodia; Border Fields, USA and Mexico; Historical Mosque City of Bagerhat, Bangladesh; Nan Madol, Micronesia; Levuka, Fiji; Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba, Togo and Benin; Sceilg Mhichíl, Ireland; and Port, Fortress, and Group of Monuments at Cartagena, Columbia.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD said it was “ an honour for Ireland to be part of this global programme led by National Geographic”.

“It is recognition of Sceilg Mhichíl’s place in the pantheon of World Heritage sites and also of our obligations to ensure its protection,” he said.

“Our National Monuments Service team, with OPW, look forward to sharing our experiences, working with communities and learning from approaches elsewhere, as we join together to address what is a shared challenge of the impact of climate change on the world’s heritage,” he said.

“Our ambitious approach to addressing this critical issue will not only lead to tangible protection of cultural heritage sites; it will be the game-changers needed to increase access to heritage adaptation and transform conservation as a field to meet the challenges of a climate-changed world,” Dr Victoria Herrmann, National Geographic Explorer and Project Director of Preserving Legacies, said.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

A recent Atlantic storm has washed away a large crane worth thousands of euros which had been hired for construction work on Skellig Michael.

As The Sunday Independent reports, the temporary crane, shipped out several months ago to the UNESCO world heritage site, has vanished from the main pier on Skellig Michael.

Local fishermen in south Kerry were the first to spot the disappearance after several days of gales.

Although the crane was bolted onto the pier and into rock, it is believed the machinery was engulfed by waves, broken up and swept away.

The crane, owned by a Kerry-based contractor, was being used to lift vehicles, steel and other materials onto the rock, below the internationally known sixth-century monastic site.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) had commissioned the construction of several heavy-duty shelters to protect visitors at the western end of the island, after a rockfall in early June of this year led to a temporary closure of the national monument.

The UNESCO world heritage site is an internationally important habitat for seabirds.

It is home to some of the world’s largest breeding populations of Manx shearwater and storm petrel. Puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes and guillemots also nest on high cliffs and ledges.

Birdwatch Ireland wrote to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in mid-June, raising its concerns about the potential impacts of the rock “sweeping” on sensitive nesting sites and asking for details of “safeguards” which had been put in place to protect breeding birds.

The OPW has confirmed that the crane is “no longer in position”, which is “most likely due to the impact of the sea swell on the structure”.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Skellig Michael has reopened to visitors after the recent rockfall forced a temporary suspension of visitors to the UNESCO world heritage site off the Kerry coast.

This year’s season on the island 12 km off the Kerry coast began on May 15th, but the island was closed on June 13th after the rockfall that day. No one was injured in the incident.

The OPW said it sent specialist teams to assess the site and remove debris, and ensure safety of both visitors and guiding staff.

The closure hit local ferry operators in Kerry who are still hoping for a good season after the Covid-19 closure in 2020, and shortened visitor season last year.

After the rockfall, which the OPW described as "minor", Birdwatch Ireland expressed concern about the potential impacts of safety measures being taken on sensitive bird sites on the island.

The independent bird conservation organisation said last month it had not been consulted about “sweeping operations” on Skellig Michael, designed to remove any loose rock material, in advance of the OPW measures.

The sixth-century monastic site is an internationally important habitat for seabirds and is home to some of the largest breeding populations of Manx shearwater and storm petrel in the world. Its high cliffs and ledges also support nesting sites for puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes and guillemots.

It was used as a set for two Star Wars films, which also caused some concern about the impact on such a sensitive habitat.

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan had said that OPW staff, “supported by experts and colleagues in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage” would take “all necessary steps to enable a safe return of visitors within the shortest possible turnaround time”.

He said they would be “strictly adhering to any environmental and other legal obligations imposed at this UNESCO World Heritage Site that is, at the same time, a sanctuary for breeding sea birds”.

The NPWS said it “has been liaising with the National Monuments Service and the OPW in relation to the recent rockfall on Skelligs, and follow up work, including ‘sweeping’ of the area concerned and possible further health and safety responses”.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Kerry’s Skellig Michael may re-open to visitors on July 2nd, after a minor rockfall forced a temporary closure of the UNESCO world heritage site.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) told RTÉ News that specialist teams assessed the site and have removed debris, and cautioned that re-opening in a week’s time is subject to weather conditions.

 "Our staff, supported by experts and colleagues in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, are currently on site and are taking all necessary steps to enable a safe return of visitors within the shortest possible turnaround time while strictly adhering to any environmental and other legal obligations imposed at this UNESCO World Heritage Site that is, at the same time, a sanctuary for breeding sea birds,”Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan said.

This year’s season on the island 12 km off the Kerry coast began on May 15th, but the island was closed on June 13th after the rockfall that day. No one was injured in the incident, the OPW said.

However, earlier this week Birdwatch Ireland expressed concern about the potential impacts of safety measures being taken on Skellig Michael, following the recent rockfall.

The independent bird conservation organisation said it had not been consulted to date about “sweeping operations” on Skellig Michael, designed to remove any loose rock material.

Birdwatch Ireland said it was concerned about the negative impact of such “sweeping” on sensitive nesting birds on the island.

The sixth-century monastic site is an internationally important habitat for seabirds and is home to some of the largest breeding populations of Manx shearwater and storm petrel in the world. Its high cliffs and ledges also support nesting sites for puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes and guillemots.

It was used as a set for Star Wars, which also caused some concern about the impact on such a sensitive habitat.

Last February The Irish Examiner reported that Grellan Rourke the former site manager at Skellig Michael who worked on the island for more than 40 years, had described filming scenes for two Star Wars episodes there as “inappropriate”.

Rourke claimed many visitors to the world heritage site were now more interested in its Hollywood depiction rather than its ancient history.

Skellig Michael was used for filming scenes for both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

The NPWS said it “has been liaising with the National Monuments Service and the OPW in relation to the recent rockfall on Skelligs, and follow up work, including ‘sweeping’ of the area concerned and possible further Health and Safety responses”.

“This work, including assessments and monitoring in relation to the bird populations, is ongoing,” the NPWS parent department – Housing – said.

Read more on RTÉ News here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Birdwatch Ireland has expressed concern about the potential impacts of safety measures being taken on Skellig Michael, following last week’s rockfall which led to the temporary closure of the UNESCO world heritage site.

The independent bird conservation organisation said it had not been consulted to date about “sweeping operations” on Skellig Michael, designed to remove any loose rock material.

Birdwatch Ireland says it is concerned about the negative impact of such “sweeping” on sensitive nesting birds on the island, lying 12 km west of the Kerry coast.

The sixth-century monastic site is an internationally important habitat for seabirds and is home to some of the largest breeding populations of Manx shearwater and storm petrel in the world. Its high cliffs and ledges also support nesting sites for puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes and guillemots.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) said on June 13th that it was closing the island temporarily to visitors, due to a “ minor rockfall event” at around 1 pm that day. No casualties occurred, it confirmed.

It said an OPW works crew, accompanied by specialist contractors, would visit the island this week to carry out this work “with a view to re-opening the island to visitors as soon as possible”.

However, BirdWatch Ireland spokesman Niall Hatch said it had not been consulted about the “sweeping operations” planned by the OPW to make the island safe for visitors.

“Once we learned of what was being proposed, my colleague Oonagh Duggan, who is our head of policy and advocacy, wrote to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on June 15th to raise our concerns about the potential impacts of the sweeping on the sensitive nesting birds on the island,” Mr Hatch said.

He said Ms Duggan specifically requested “details of the safeguards that are being put in place to protect breeding birds at and around the site of the rockfall and to ensure that legal protections for the nesting birds are guaranteed”.

“She also stressed that, despite the undoubted significant pressure for OPW to open the island back up for visitors, it is vitally important that the legal protections for the breeding birds under the Wildlife Acts and the EU Birds Directive are adhered to,”Mr Hatch said.

He said the organisation was informed that evening that NPWS was “seeking further information from OPW with regard to their proposed plans”, and it hoped to revert with more detail in the near future.

“We have not received any further communications from either NPWS or OPW about this matter since then,” Mr Hatch said.

A local artist and community worker in Kerry, who did not wish to be named, also appealed for care.

"I really understand the importance of Skellig Michael for the local economy, but can I please remind everyone involved about the extraordinary beauty and vulnerability of the island at this time of year, with thousands of North Atlantic seabirds nesting there - it is important that all interventions are done without any harm to them,” she said.

“As the island is a wild location it should always be understood and presented as such. It is usually part of the essence of such a location that safety for human visitors can't be fully guaranteed, and that has to be accepted and acceptable to all concerned,” she said.

“In the meantime, there is a need for very extensive oversight and scrutiny for all works planned at such a location,” the artist added.

The Department of Housing said its NPWS staff were working closely with OPW staff and contractors in “monitoring the situation”, and said, “they have been consulted at all stages”.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Kerry’s Skellig Michael has been closed to visitors due to a rockfall, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed.

No one was injured, but the UNESCO world heritage site will remain closed “until further notice”, the OPW says.

A full examination of the site and clearance of the debris is due to take place this week.

It is the third significant rockfall in recent years. In 2015, a large boulder broke free from a slope and landed in the middle of Lighthouse road, used by visitors, while rocks and debris also fell from the upper slopes in 2017.

The visitor season for the 6th-century monastic site 12 km off the Kerry coast had opened on May 15th this year and is due to run until the end of September.

Skellig Michael was closed throughout the 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic and had a later visitor opening last year.

It is expected that a detailed examination will assess if there is any imminent danger of further landslides or rockfalls which could threaten the safety of visitors and staff on the island.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Living on a small island in a cabin with no electricity or running water for five months of the year may not be for everyone, but Skellig Michael's Catherine Merrigan wouldn’t miss a season since she began working as a guide there in the year 2000.

On her first night, she decided she had made a big mistake and would leave next morning. However, a storm blew up, she couldn’t leave for five days and fell in love with the rock and its birdlife.

She learned that there are up to 10,000 breeding pairs of puffins, and that puffins often like to take a break from their partners...which means the relationship thrives.

A Skellig Michael PuffinA Skellig Michael Puffin

“Watching their antics, their playfulness...I never get tired,” she says. She is enthralled by the kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, gannets, rock pipits and even a golden eagle spent time there.

Over the two decades, she began taking notes and photographs, and the result is a beautifully illustrated paperback which she spoke to Wavelengths about.

Living Among the Puffins on Skellig Michael by Catherine Merrigan, published by Rebel Press, is available in the Dingle Bookshop, Co Kerry and on Amazon at £12.99 sterling or 15 euro.Living Among the Puffins on Skellig Michael by Catherine Merrigan, published by Rebel Press, is available in the Dingle Bookshop, Co Kerry and on Amazon at £12.99 sterling or 15 euro.

Published in Wavelength Podcast
Tagged under
Page 1 of 4

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating