The Skelligs: Great Skellig and Little Skellig

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
Two precipitous, rocky, uninhabited islands, situated 16 km west of Bolus Head on the Iveragh peninsula in County Kerry. Great Skellig reaches a height of 240 m and is the site of an old Celtic monastery. Little Skellig lies 1 km to its north-east and reaches 134 m in height. Great Skellig is popular with day-trippers. Landing on Little Skellig is prohibited.

Key biodiversity
The Skellig Islands are of international importance for breeding seabirds. In particular, the colony of Sula bassana on Little Skellig is the largest in Ireland. Other species breeding in numbers of national importance are Fulmarus glacialis (>800 pairs, 1993), Rissa tridactyla (>2,000 pairs, 1993), Alca torda (>300 birds, 1993) and Uria aalge (1,500 birds, 1993).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
It is important to ensure that visitors to Great Skellig use the paths, to prevent erosion of the fragile soils where many of the birds have their nest-burrows. BirdWatch Ireland has a long-term lease on Little Skellig.

Protected areas
National High International Partial23 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Great Skellig, 23 ha). 8 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Little Skellig, 8 ha). 25 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (The Skelligs: Great Skellig and Little Skellig, 25 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: The Skelligs: Great Skellig and Little Skellig. Downloaded from on 25/05/2022.