OPW gets reports that winter storms cause significant damage on Skellig Michael

The Office of Public Works says it is preparing to investigate reports that winter storms have led to significant damage on Skellig Michael. By Jerzy Strzelecki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons Experts are due to visit the famous World Heritage site off the Kerry Coast in the coming days to assess the damage. The OPW says reports suggest damage has been sustained to a lenght of wall along the main visitor path known as the Lighthouse Road. The walkway leads from the landing pier to the base of the south steps and is the sole access for visitors to the monastic site. A portion of the wall at the Cross Cove has been swept away possibly by waves during severe storms in recent months; this could also have been caused by a rockfall which is common in this area. No information has been received in relation to any damage to the monastic site, which is much higher on the island. However, the level of damage has yet to be officially confirmed. Experts from the OPW and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are to access the island in the coming days to view the site first hand. Once the position has been fully assessed, a report will be made to the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht. If the damage caused is of the scale suspected it could be judged unsafe for visitors. It is will be a priority to establish the safety implications for visitors due in the summer and how to address this given the important role the island plays in the local tourism industry.