OPW concludes repair work on Sceilg Mhichíl/Skellig Michael
22 July 16
The Office of Public Works confirmed today (22 July 216) that major repair works which were made necessary following damage to a rockfall which damaged a key section of the road and wall at Sceilg Mhichíl/Skellig Michael island in Kerry, have this week been successfully concluded and the Island infrastructure reinstated.
The major damage occurred earlier this year when a large section of rock fractured at a high level on the slopes above the Lighthouse Road, the main visitor access to the famous Monastery site, and fell into the sea, on its way, crashing into and severely damaging the Road and its seaward boundary wall and badly compromising the access to the Monastery. When this was discovered in March last, it gave rise to significant fears that the Island would not be able to open to visitors this year owing to the severe safety risk that it presented and the OPW commenced a major rebuilding and safety project to ensure that the damage was repaired and continued visitor access facilitated.
The work involved the rebuilding of two major sections of walling which had been either demolished or considerably undermined by the rockfall and the extension of a wooden canopy at the location to protect visitors from further material which is still, on occasion, shedding from the upper slopes. Works have been signed off which have been done by its staff based at their Killarney National Monuments Depot, supported by their onsite Safety Contractor, and with the project fully complete, the Island is now restored to its former state.
Visitor access to the Island was maintained throughout the repair project and visitors were able to safely access the famous Monastery steps just past the works site from the start of the summer season in May last without any significant interruption. The number of visitors landing on the Island this year up to the end of June was 5,232 which is broadly in line with the total of 12,260 for the 2015 season. Demand from tourists remains buoyant with Boatmen and other local business interests reporting a steady flow of visitors to the area. However, as always, the weather and the seas remain the major determining factor in whether the Island can be accessed. While there have been significant periods of good weather between May and July, access for the remainder of the season until 2 October 2016 will be weather dependent.