UPDATE: Further rockfall at Sceilg MhichĂ­l/Skellig Michael on Monday 9th May

9 May 16

The Office of Public Works was advised today that a further serious rockfall has this afternoon (9 May 2016) occurred at Sceilg Mhichíl/Skellig Michael , just days before the scheduled reopening of the Island on Saturday next to visitors for the new 2016 season.

A large boulder has, at about 4.30pm this afternoon, broken free from the slope above the Lighthouse Road and landed in the middle of the roadway, directly on the path normally taken by visitors travelling up to the base of the South Steps leading to the Monastic site at the Island's summit. Because of its large size and its position in the centre of the route, access along the road remains effectively blocked at this point until the obstruction can be dealt with.

This event naturally gives rise to considerable concern; the large size of the rock and the fact that it has come down in a different location from the first rockfall earlier this year are both deeply worrying symptoms that the upper slopes above the roadway remain highly unstable and unsafe.

OPW staff and Safety Contractor onsite are this evening attempting to begin to assess the scale of the problem and the possible risks it creates. In the first instance, safety staff will attempt to scale the slope above the rockfall location and assess whether there is other material likely to descend. Once the area is declared safe, staff will then be in a position to move in beneath to deal with the rock on the roadway.

The likely impact on this event is unknown at this stage until the matter has been assessed in detail. However, given the obvious implications for visitor safety, it is clear that it may have significant consequences in terms of the planned opening date this coming weekend. Currently, the site is clearly deeply unsafe for both Staff and visitors and the OPW Heritage Services staff on the Island are proceeding with extreme caution until the matter has been more fully assessed.

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact Colette Davis, OPW Press Officer at 087 947 5552 or colette.davis@opw.ie