A significant rockfall has occurred at Skellig Michael.
The rockfall was discovered on Friday when OPW staff arrived at the Island to carry out the normal pre-season maintenance works and safety checks before the scheduled opening to visitors in mid-May.
Some of the material is very large and would have caused severe damage to structures had they been hit directly.
A large amount of material has been deposited from upper slopes onto the roadway in an area vital to the OPW operation on the Island.
This follows on a similar event that occurred in the winter of 2015/16 when boulders falling from the steep slopes above caused damage to the Lighthouse Road and its seaward wall, causing concern at the implications for tourist safety.
Senior Conservation Architect for Skellig Mhíchíl Grellan Rourke said its frequently problematic to get to the site in April but the level of rockfall encountered this year is highly exceptional and deeply worrying.
The OPW stressed that the location involved is part of the site’s service area and is not directly accessible normally by visitors; however, it is of concern because of its nearness to a key staff circulation zone that would normally be very highly trafficked by both Guides and Works staff right throughout the summer.
The OPW stressed that it is too early at this stage to speculate about the possible effect on the island’s opening date on May 14th.