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2nd Tourist falls to death on Skellig Michael


Catalpa

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Jun 10, 2004
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10,301
Skellig Michael

One of our great historical monuments has unfortunately in such a short space of time claimed another victim.

IMO an urgent review of safety features on the island is needed if more tragedies are to be avoided.

It would seem that a large number of the visitors are older people whose sense of balance is not what it was and are probably undertaking a very strenuous ascent and descent in an open physical environment they are unused to.

At least with SM closing for the Winter in 10 days time the OPW will have time to rewiew all aspects of visitot safety there B4 it repens in the Spring.

A fundamental review of all operations, including safety, is to be carried out on Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast.

Dr Martin Mansergh, Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, made his comments following the second death in less than five months of a visitor to the Skellig rock.


RTÉ News: Safety review after Skellig death

I wonder has anyone from this Site ever been there & would care to comment?

Personally I would love to visit the place one day.

Though I'm not great with heights!
 


Tommy Tayto

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The excuse last time was that they didn't want anything to interfere with the visual integrity of the site. Now call me naive, but I'm pretty sure that in this day and age they can come up with a railing that causes minimum interference visually, even if it's just a bloody chain that can be taken down after the summer.
Visual integrity isn't much good to any visitor if they're dead or paralysed for life...


And for the record I haven't been down there, although I'm planning on doing it next weekend. Not sure how I'll cope with the heights though, it's meant to be quite dramatic.
 

asset test

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I'm one of the "nearly made its". Was in Portmagee in August, and although the bay was calm, the boats could not make the journey as the swells and currents etc. were bad out near the rock itself. At the time I was quite disappointed, but went to the Interpretative centre on Valentia Island instead. When I saw the film of the Skellig (stunning btw), I realised how steep the steps were, and how, if you missed your footing there wasn't really much to save you. I have mixed feelings about trying to visit again, especially after hearing the news of another death today.

I heard one of the boatmen who travel to the island saying today that the two deaths occurred in exactly the same place. Apparently there is some feature just off the stepped pathway that both people went off the path to see, and then they lost their footing. The suggestion was that the steps and paths are relatively safe, but if you go off the beaten path it can be very treacherous.

Also there are OPW staff living on the island, but they do not appear to act as guides, so I would question why they do not greet visitors at least and explain the dangers. Signage has improved since the previous death, but a roped railing was not considered by OPW in order to preserve the integrity of the monument. Well, frankly, if it is as dangerous as it seems, then to preserve the integrity, NO visitors should be allowed at all, and let them all see it from the Interpretative Centre on Valentia.

Otherwise, as another poster said, there must be some way of putting in some sort of temporary guide/safety rope railings.

I hear that the family of the man who died earlier in the year are taking an action against the State for the accident that killed their husband and father. I suspect that action might make things change.

FGS they wouldn't let anyone on the Hill of Tara at the Summer Solstice to protect its integrity. Now I can't see any dangers there.
 

ruserious

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29,621
This thread may be a bit old but is good to restart a discussion on Skellig!

Since the fall mentioned above, the OPW recommended not to put in safety railings as it would take away from the nature of the place.

Climbed it once. Unreal views from the top. Nice climb too I may add. Scary descent!

Any of ye climb it?
 

Campion

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Jun 4, 2011
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597
I've been to Skellig. The steps are uneven in terms of rise and width of the step-- not "up to code", as it were. I found it much more difficult coming down than going up. Its almost dizzying when you look out and down. I saw people going off at various points to get a photo or a view- you're really on your own there for the most part. I'd be wary of the OPW-- their archaeologists have already mucked with parts of the monastery in an attempt to preserve and restore it, much to the chagrin of other archaeologists. One of them, Michael Gibbons, complained to UNESCO as Skellig is a world heritage site. I'd hate to see the OPW wreck the site the way that they did with the Cliffs of Moher- they'd make it into some sort of monastic Disney site with guys dressed like puffins and gannets.

Link to an article by Gibbons from History Ireland:
Restored to death? Skellig Michael’s World Heritage Status under threat / News / Issue 3 (May/Jun 2007) / Volume 15 / historyireland.com

Economist article on Gibbons' complaints
Skellig Michael: An Irish riddle wrapped in a mystery | The Economist
 
Last edited:

Carl Claudius

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Dec 21, 2012
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1,263
Skellig Michael

One of our great historical monuments has unfortunately in such a short space of time claimed another victim.

IMO an urgent review of safety features on the island is needed if more tragedies are to be avoided.

It would seem that a large number of the visitors are older people whose sense of balance is not what it was and are probably undertaking a very strenuous ascent and descent in an open physical environment they are unused to.

At least with SM closing for the Winter in 10 days time the OPW will have time to rewiew all aspects of visitot safety there B4 it repens in the Spring.

A fundamental review of all operations, including safety, is to be carried out on Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast.

Dr Martin Mansergh, Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, made his comments following the second death in less than five months of a visitor to the Skellig rock.


RTÉ News: Safety review after Skellig death

I wonder has anyone from this Site ever been there & would care to comment?

Personally I would love to visit the place one day.

Though I'm not great with heights!
what do you suggest they do to improve saftey?
you are told again and again to be careful and you see people taking stupid risks for the best photo. The boat trip out is interesting. Its in an open boat and once you leave the shelter of the harbour it gets choppy. Make sure you have breakfast long before getting on. The trip out is about an hour and a half and the sea saw my breakfast. there is no electricity or toilets on the island and you spend about two hours on it. Its a special place and they try to minimise modernising the place. everywhere else they would plonk a 'heritage centre' in the middle of it and destroy the view and atmosphere.

its an experience but can be tough going. you need to be careful.
 

Carl Claudius

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Dec 21, 2012
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1,263
[

Also there are OPW staff living on the island, but they do not appear to act as guides, so I would question why they do not greet visitors at least and explain the dangers. Signage has improved since the previous death, but a roped railing was not considered by OPW in order to preserve the integrity of the monument. Well, frankly, if it is as dangerous as it seems, then to preserve the integrity, NO visitors should be allowed at all, and let them all see it from the Interpretative Centre on Valentia.

.[/QUOTE]

we got off the boat walked about 300 metres and a guide stopped us and explained saftey, what to do and what not to do. we then continued up to the settlement where a guide explained the history. They could not have done more.
if you are careful you will enjoy the experience. Nobody is going to stop you standing on a cliff edge.
 

Carl Claudius

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Dec 21, 2012
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1,263
The excuse last time was that they didn't want anything to interfere with the visual integrity of the site. Now call me naive, but I'm pretty sure that in this day and age they can come up with a railing that causes minimum interference visually, even if it's just a bloody chain that can be taken down after the summer.
Visual integrity isn't much good to any visitor if they're dead or paralysed for life...


And for the record I haven't been down there, although I'm planning on doing it next weekend. Not sure how I'll cope with the heights though, it's meant to be quite dramatic.

there is a rope at the very steep part.
 

Happytolearn

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Aug 23, 2011
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This is the top of Skellig Michael just before you get to the monastery. It was a truly spectacular place - they were very vocal on the safety advice and everywhere you went there were whispers of the past few tragedies that had occurred. I'm afraid of heights and I never remember feeling like I couldn't proceed. That said - as you can see it was a calm, clear day. Anyone who hasn't been - please please please go.
 

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