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Plan to protect Kerry’s most precious site

Skellig Mhichíl is the most spectacular of all the early medieval island monastic sites

A NEW 10-year management plan for the Sceilg Mhichíl has been officially launched.

It’s an important milestone in the story of the world heritage site which began when monks first colonised the island off the Kerry coast, as early as the sixth century. The island is an iconic site, as recognised in its 1996 UNESCO inscription.

The plan reaffirms the shared mission of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Office of Public Works to protect, conserve and promote an appreciation of the early monastic site and its island setting with a management framework to ensure that it is preserved for present and future generations.

The attraction balances the challenges of managing sustainable visitor numbers with protection of the island’s fragile cultural and natural heritage

It balances the challenges of managing sustainable visitor numbers to the very popular location with protection of the island’s fragile cultural and natural heritage.

The overall management framework detailed in the new management plan to protect the outstanding universal value of Sceilg Mhichíl is framed around specific objectives and 90 actions, including the reservation of Sceilig’s Mhicíl’s heritage, natural heritage conservation, monitoring the impacts of climate change and sustainable management of tourism.

Visitor impacts will be monitored and numbers will be reviewed annually with particular attention to the sustainability of the 180 visitors per day limit. The plan also commits to preventing unauthorised drone and helicopter flights.

Launching the plan, the minister of State with Responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcom Noonan, said it establishes firm commitments to protect and conserve one the nation’s most precious sites for archaeological, natural and built heritage, while sustainably managing access to a very popular location at the heart of the heritage tourism offering of and Kerry.

“I am extremely proud of the work of our National Monuments Service and National Parks and Wildlife Service in protecting this extraordinary island through the ongoing partnership with the Office of Public Works,” theeminister said.

“This management plan will also mitigate the effects of climate change, which presents an increasing threat. We have already seen the impacts of extreme weather, such as increased rock falls. Our joint efforts to protect this national treasure are all the more important in that context”.

 

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Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996, Sceilg Mhichíl is one of three World Heritage Properties on the island of Ireland, alongside Brú na Bóinne and the Giant’s Causeway.

Renowned for its feature beehive huts, it featured prominently when chosen as a location for two of the Star Wars movies, guaranteeing exposure to millions of people all over the world.

A dedicated OPW workforce of architects, masons and guides work throughout the year to ensure safe access to the island for the many whose dream it is to visit this spectacular place, while also safeguarding its future.

Sceilg Mhichíl is one of Ireland’s most important sites for breeding seabirds, both for the diversity of the species and the size of the colonies it supports.

Sceilg Mhichíl is the most spectacularly situated of all the early medieval island monastic sites in Ireland, with well-preserved access steps, a monastery, a remote hermitage and other monastic structures.

There is a new focus on bringing back to life two 19th-century lighthouse complexes in order to shine a light on that fascinating maritime heritage and the lives of the keepers and their families who left their own mark on the island many centuries after the monks.

The management plan is available for download at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/126d7-sceilg-mhichil-world-heritage-property-management-plan-202030/