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.
I love shooting nocturnes - night landscapes. The night sky is a very beautiful thing, and is underappreciated as so many of us live in cities where light pollution hides all but the brightest stars.
Combining the beauty of a dark sky with a dramatic landscape is a real joy for me. So, here's this photograph of the Skellig islands from Valentia island at the tip of the Ring of Kerry. The constellation of Orion dominates the sky above Bray Head while moonlit clouds scud across the frame. The Great Nebula of Orion, M42, is just visible at the end of Orion's Sword.
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.
Being mainly famous for its 6th century monastery, the dramatic island of Skellig Michael also boasts two lighthouses built in 1830. This image was made of the lower lighthouse from the road to the upper (which was discontinued and abandoned in 1870).
Made shortly after moonrise, the image shows the light in its new guise. Just a couple of weeks before this image was made, the old fresnel lantern was decommissioned and a modern LED lantern mounted on the balcony. In a large print, this new light can be seen illuminated. It has great advantages in cost of operation, but unfortunately means that the rest of the lighthouse complex is surplus to requirements and will be closed up. The end of an era, but on this trip I was fortunate enough to enjoy the hospitality of the lighthouse for possibly the last time ever.
This is one of my favourite images of recent times. I love the line of the road leading down to the light, and even more the evidence of nature's relentless assault in the cracked and damaged walls, and the overgrown road itself.
Rarely seen, the hermitage clings to the narrow South Peak of Skellig Michael with a 700 foot drop on either side. The main monastery can be seen on the North Peak in the middle distance, and the Small Skellig and the Kerry coast lie beyond.