cashel of the kings


“Skellig Michael (Irish: Sceilig Mhichíl), or Great Skellig (Irish: Sceilig Mhór), is an island (the larger of the two Skellig Islands) in the Atlantic Ocean, 11.6 km west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. A Christian monastery was founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century, and was continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century. The remains of the monastery, along with most of the island itself, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Skellig Michael was uninhabited prior to the foundation of its monastery. Folklore holds that Ir, son of Míl Espáine, was buried on the island, and a text from the 8th or 9th century states that Duagh, King of West Munster, fled to “Scellecc” after a feud with the Kings of Cashel, although it is not known whether these events actually took place.

The monastic site on the island is located on a terraced shelf 600 feet above sea-level, and developed between the sixth and eighth century. It contains six beehive cells, two oratories as well as a number of stone crosses and slabs. It also contains a later medieval church. The cells and oratories are all of dry-built corbel construction. A carefully designed system for collecting and purifying water in cisterns was developed. It has been estimated that no more than twelve monks and an abbot lived here at any one time. A hermitage is located on the south peak.”


Statue commemorating St. Kessog by AllieMark

On 10 March 560, St Kessog, the Irish missionary was killed.

The feast day of St Kessog, the nation’s ‘first’ Patron Saint, has been largely forgotten but he played a vital role in the assertion of Scottish independence in 1314. It was to him that Robert the Bruce is supposed to have prayed for guidance on the eve of the Battle of Bannockburn.

As with all stories this old there are differing  stories, one such says he  was the son of the King of Cashel in the royal family of Munster. One day, while playing with the sons of visiting chiefs all the children drowned in an accident except Kessog.

The grief, anger and search for someone to blame among the visiting families caused a major falling-out but, after a night of praying, Kessog is said to have brought all the children back to life and averted a possible war.

Another version has him as born in Strathclyde, and travelling to Ireland, to study, before returning to Scotland. But since, at that time, the two peoples were so closely inter-related, and since there was a great deal of travelling between the two places, it perhaps doesn’t matter that we will never know for sure. He was believed to be a disciple of St Patrick.

The stories all seem to agree that a Pictish chief had men murder him near an ancient druid site, the site of his death used to be marked by a cairn but it has long gone. 

His name crops up in communities as widespread as Auchterarder, Comrie, Callander, Glen Finglas, Strathearn and Inverness where the Kessock Bridge replaced the former Kessog’s ferry, he was particularly associated with the Village of Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond, where a church is dedicated to him.

The picture shows a wooden depiction of St Kessog in Luss.