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Thursday 19 October 2017

'Deeply worrying' rock fall on Skellig Michael

The fallen rocks close to the Skellig Michael visitor site
The fallen rocks close to the Skellig Michael visitor site

Rory Tevlin

There has been a significant rock fall at the Skellig Michael heritage site, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed.

A large amount of debris was left scattered after falling from the upper slopes on to a road on the island.

The Co Kerry Unesco World Heritage Site rose to world prominence after the latest instalment of the Star Wars film series was shot there.

The OPW yesterday confirmed the damage was discovered last Friday when staff arrived at the island to carry out pre-season maintenance works and safety checks.

Workers had been delayed somewhat by bad weather in recent days and last Friday was the first opportunity they had to access the site.

Grellan Rourke, the OPW's senior conservation architect for Skellig Michael, said: "It is frequently problematic to get to the site in April.

"We would normally expect to have to deal with some level of winter storm damage, and our staff usually have to do a good deal of clean-up work before the site is ready for visitors, but the level of rock fall we have encountered this year is highly exceptional and, because of where it has come down, deeply worrying indeed."

The rocks, shale and other debris materials were discovered on the island's Lighthouse Road, close to the accommodation huts.

These buildings are maintained on the island for use during the summer by the OPW's conservation work staff.

The accommodation consists of a number of lightweight prefabricated structures, which are used during the season when the island is open to visitors.

Mr Rourke said: "Some of the material is very large.

"It's quite clear that, had these rocks come down directly on top of the huts, there would have been a significant threat to anyone inside."

Irish Independent

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