Skellig Michael Island

SkelligAn hour by boat off the Western coast of Ireland is Skellig Michael Island. It’s tall, isolated, and surrounded by the cold dark Atlantic ocean.

The island is exotic enough that StarWars has filmed sequences there twice. It’s also a UNESCO world heritage site.

Human history of the island isn’t clear. Probably around the 6th century, some intrepid Christian monks started creating a small monastic community of less than a dozen monks just below the top.

All of the monastery, from the foundation to the beehive shaped quarters, was built by dry stacking stones. Before the monastery, Skellig Michael was uninhabited. The monastery was continuously occupied until it was abandoned in the late 12th century when the climate got too cold and stormy.

It’s impressive that a few guys in the 6th century could have even gotten to the island, gotten out of their boat in the pitching sea. Building their small community high up on the side of Skellig Michael must have taken a very long time to complete.skellig stairs

Visiting a place like Skellig Michael lets you see how different life was and wonder about what makes the big differences.

The people then were the same as we are. The difference between now and older times is the technology, the civilization and the infrastructure in place.

When and where you’re born affects your future because of what kind of infrastructure is available at that time and place. The farther apart people are means fewer ideas get exchanged. And fewer people probably means fewer new ideas initially.

And ideas don’t always flourish or they do in reverse. For example, before the printing press, very few people could read so pursuing the printing press when it was developed seems counterintuitive. The people who could read were mostly religious and had a vested interest in keeping new ideas tamped down.

Anyway, it’s fascinating to see what was able to be done and how life must have been more than a 1000 years ago.