Sundials in Ireland - Ancient Monastic Dials

Skellig Michael Co.Kerry

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Located 12 Km off the south-west coast of Ireland, the small island of Skellig Michael is a pinnacle of barren rock that rises 218 metres above of the Atlantic Ocean.

Its remoteness made it an ideal location in the 7th century for an Early Christian monastic settlement. One of the best preserved early Christian monasteries in the world, the remains consist of six stone 'Bee Hive' huts and two 'boat shaped' stone oratories built on two narrow terraces.

Sketch of the Skellig Michael Sundial

O'Sullivan, A. and Sheehan, J. 1996. The Iveragh peninsula: an archaeological survey of south Kerry "..This cross inscribed slab tapers regularly in width towards its base from a broad flat top. It features a circular perforation near the top from which three radial grooves extend. The central groove is the most prominent and extends down to the upper terminal of a linear Latin cross. The shaft of the cross features bulbous terminals and the crossing of its arms is ringed by a groove. 1.6ms high, 0.25ms wide."

During reconstruction work at the monastery in 1946 the ancient sundial was used as the inner lintel over the 1200mm high door of the oratory on the upper terrace !!
Nothing of the sundial carving can be seen now.

Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are two others in Ireland, Bru na Boinne in Co. Meath and the Giant's Causeway in Co. Antrim.

Boat trips operate daily (weather and tide permitting) from May to September to the Skellig Islands departing from Ballinskelligs and other ports. Skellig Michael is a precipitous rock and there are about 600 uneven steps with no handrails on the ascent to the monastery. ONLY the sure-footed should make this trip as two visitors have fallen to their deaths in recent times. Definitely not for the faint hearted or those with health issues.

National Monument No 61.

Lat 51° 46' North    Long 10° 32' West

IRISH GRID     V  025140    060170

If you know the location of a sundial in Ireland (NOT a mass produced DIY Store garden ornament) please email it to me (Click here to email M.J.Harley) - a member of British Sundial Society
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