Helicopter swoops in for Skellig renovation mission
SEVEN tonnes of material have been airlifted to Skellig Michael for essential renovation works on the Unesco world heritage site.
Specialist Air Corps helicopter crews were dropped down on to a small landing pad some 37 metres over a sheer drop to the Atlantic Ocean off the Kerry coast.
Pilots in an Agusta Westland AW139 were then directed into the area with its heavy cargo suspended underneath the aircraft.
Seven tonnes of essential materials were flown from Valentia Island to Skellig Michael over the course of the mission, which took several hours.
The OPW said the Defence Forces delivered stone which would be used for repairs to the walls on the road leading to the lighthouse on Skellig.
"The works will take place in 2014 and when weather conditions allow safe access to the island," it added.
Skellig Michael is home to one of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland.
It stands in the Atlantic Ocean some 12km southwest of Valentia Island and is renowned as being one of the remotest locations in the country.
The helipad on Skellig Michael was constructed in 1969 with reinforced concrete and is partially supported off the cliff face by three five- metre high concrete columns.
Captain Brendan O'Dowd, of the Air Corps press office, said the AW139 can carry 2.2 tonnes underneath the helicopter which allows the transport of heavy loads into remote and otherwise inaccessible areas.
"This is the second time the Air Corps has flown cargo to the Skellig Islands for the OPW in the recent past.
"But they also help out with other government organisations when asked," he said.