Looking over the Spit from the narrow and precipitous South Peak across to the monastery on Skellig Michael, with the Small Skellig in the distance. The triangular shadow of the peak itself is visible on the water as well.
The monastery on Skellig Michael dates from the 6th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perched on a man-made terrace 600 feet above the Atlantic, it's possibly my favourite place in the world. This photograph was made looking into the rising sun - a rare privilege!
Photographed just after sunrise, this view from the western end of Skellig Michael shows the two lighthouses very effectively. As shafts of sunlight penetrate the clouds and light up the sea, the abandoned northern lighthouse sits high on its ridge in the centre of the frame. The still-operational southern light is very visible with its white painted walls.
Skellig Michael is one of my favourite locations anywhere in the world. It has long been my desire to photograph the 6th century monastery here in good light, and in mid-2012 I was given the opportunity to do just that. Access to the island is restricted with tourists only permitted between the hours of 10am and 4pm - which is unfortunately when the light is at its worst during the summer months.
On this occasion I was able to overnight on the island and was granted a spectacular sunrise, which you see here.
The 'beehive' huts here are drystone construction and have stood in more or less this condition since the monastery was abandoned in the 13th century. Even the ground on which they are built is remarkable, as it's a man-made terrace produced by building up hundreds of tons of rock held in by a series of retaining walls. The monks had no choice in this, as there is virtually no naturally occurring flat space on the island.
A rarely seen angle on Skellig Michael, looking from the northeast. The monastery is just behind the ridge of the leftmost peak, while the lone hermitage clings to the slopes just under the summit of the right peak.
The Small Skellig is not often photographed other than from Skellig Michael. However, it's a worthy subject in its own right. Home to thousands of pairs of gannets, it looks dusted in snow as the sun sets behind it.