Sceilig Mhichíl

Lyrics and Music: Tim Dennehy

Everyone should have a sanctuary to escape to in times of need. One is reminded of Wordsworth's, "emotion recollected in tranquillity". The Skellig Rock lies off the Southwest coast of Kerry and is certainly one of the most hauntingly beautiful places imaginable. It is laden with myth and folklore, history and spirituality. Daire Domhain, the great king, rested there before doing battle for a year and a day with the Fianna at Ventry. Ir, son of Miletius, is buried there while Duach, king of West Munster, took refuge when pursued by the king of Cashel in 490 AD. St. Fionán founded a monastery there in the 6th. Century and the stone beehive cells are still there to this day. The Norsemen raided the island in 812 and 823 AD carrying off Eitgall whose son died of hunger and thirst. The Skellig has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Sight and thousands of tourists visit it each year. Today, almost two centuries after the first monks worshipped on the rock, the peace, serenity and inner calm can still be inhaled, a lifetime away form the coarseness and vulgarity of much of modern living.     

Harbour for Daire Domhain, a resting-place of Ir
A refuge for a Munster King when danger's sword was near
And a home for Saint Fionán to found his monastery
Turmoil of the gannets' call, a peaceful sanctuary

But that peace was sorely shattered all by the Norsemen hordes
Who plundered humble dwellings and took Eitgall by the sword
Yet Olaf son of Norway returned to your shore
Drawn as if by magnet unto your Atlantic roar

To the seas that roar around your rock, a Charraig Sceilig Mhichíl
Where a flashing light now guides us to where pilgrims once did kneel
You're a haunt for one to walk alone or for lovers on a Shrove
The habitat of holy men a thousand years ago

It was on your seas strong oarsmen were wont to test their skills
As around you brave fishermen dropped pots in hope to fill
And those without a partner upon your lists were found
As your needle eye gazed constantly on subjects all around

But your hermit men have long since gone, a flashing light remains
The calling of the keeper and the monk is much the same
In harmony with Nature a freedom from the throng
Cleansed as by a fountain enraptured in your song

Oh the song the seas sing round your rock etc.

And in a world where permanence means just another day
Where reality is greed and power and Christ's a mere cliché
I was lonely in a Dublin room when your presence shrouded me
In a deep devotion of fond love I closed my eyes to see

Oh to see and hold you close fond rock, a Charraig Sceilig Mhichíl etc.