490AD First recorded history.-
Duach King of west Munster,he took refuge at the skelligs rock.
When pursued by Aengus, King of Carhel, Duach fled for his life to this isolated
island off the atlantic coast of Kerry.
6th Century -Monastic settlement founded.
With the introduction of christianity to Ireland came the founding
of the monastery on the rock.Although it is not known who is
the founder of the monastery,tradition gives it to St. Fionan.The
monastery consisted of a small enclosure of stone huts and oratories,
which still stand to this day on the island.
795AD -First Viking invasion.
Although isolated the skelligs and its monks did not escape being
attacked by the vikings and in 795ad, the skelligs was under
attack from Scandinavia. Early Irish manuscripts give little
information on these attacks.
812AD -Viking invasion.
The Skelligs was again under attack from the vikings and this time
they took Eitgal, Abbot of Skelligs and starved him to death.
833 - 839AD -Viking Invasions.
These years saw the island once again being attacked.However,in
spite of these attacks, the monastic community continued to live
on the Skelligs and in 860AD some rebuilding was done.
The lives of the monks on the island is still much of a mystery.
Unfortunatley, few artifacts have been found to provide, information
on the occupation of the Skelligs monastic community.
The Skelligs Micheal (the bigger of the two islands) was a place
of pilgramage and penance for many years.In the 16th century
it was a prime place of public penance.Two centuries later pilgrims
were coming from all over Europe and Ireland at Easter-time to
say the stations of the cross before finally kissing a stone
carving over-hanging the sea at the 'Needles Eye'.
tales have been told about various pilgrims to the island some
funny others serious but all interesting.Over the years the
nature of the pilgrims changed dramatically.The religious ceromonies
were now almost attended entirely by girls and young men eligable
for marriage. These couples instead of fasting went to the
Skelligs to court, dance and have a good time.
goings on lead to the famous 'Skelligs List' which were both defamatory
and humorous poems, common all over Kerry and beyond in the 19th and early
Many of these poems can now be seen in the Archives of the Dept, of Irish
Folklore in U.C.D
1821 Work begins on the construction of two lighthouses.The
buildings, rock cutting and roadway were designed by Inspector
1823 Roadways cut and prepaired for access to stations
1824 Started on stations
1826 January. One station ready for lantern light
1826 December. Both stations ready and lights exhibited on the Monday
4th December.Both lights were fixed (non rotating)
Total cost of project £45,721.15s.10p
The upper light was 121.3m above high water and seen from a distance of 25
The lower light was 53.3m above high water and seen from a distance of 18 miles
1870 The upper light was discontinued when a light was established on
Inishtearaght 22 miles north of the Skelligs
1909 A new 120,000 candelas light with a rotation machine having a character
of 3 quick flashes every10 seconds was established
1966 A temporary lantern was mounted on a nearby spur of rock and the
main light was extinguished after 146 years to make way for the new tower and
1967 The new 1,800,000 candelas light 3 flash characteristic and visible
for 27 miles came into operation
1978 Plans for the automation of the Skelligs Rock lighthouse
1981 Skelligs Lighthouse goes automatic
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