My Favourite Island

Little Skellig, From Afar

3 min read by Ash Bennison. Published in Essays & Stories.

There is an island on the west coast of Ireland. I have never set foot on it. And yet it remains my favourite place in the world.

I work as a seabird ecologist and because of this I get to spend a lot of time island-hopping around the Irish coastline in search of seabirds. There is, however, one island I have never been able to land on.

The West Side Little Skellig Ilford FP4, Olympus OM2n

The County Kerry coastline is Ireland’s crown, and the jewel in its crown is a pair of islands called The Skelligs.

Skellig Michael, the larger of the two, often gets the awes for having seventh-century beehive huts and being the filming location for Star Wars. For me though, Skellig Michael’s sibling steals the show.

Little Skellig is a difficult to reach land, full of harsh angles, and home to seventy thousand Northern gannets.

The Irish coastline is the home of wild weather, and the geography reflects that. Surrounded by strong tides and unpredictable weather, Little Skellig is full of sharp lines, heavy cracks, and dark caves. A definition of resilience in a harsh world.

I love that island.

Maybe it’s because Little Skellig is a stunningly-beautiful formation of rocks in a wild ocean. Standing proud and strong. Or because I love an underdog. The less appreciated, but still majestic in its own light. Maybe it’s because I can’t go there and I want what I can’t have. Strong currents and unpredictable weather make landing Little Skellig extremely dangerous.

The North Side Little Skellig Ilford FP4, Olympus OM2n
A Jurassic Island Little Skellig Ilford FP4, Olympus OM2n
Under The Birds Little Skellig Ilford FP4, Olympus OM2n

I have never set foot on it. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing. A dream is there to chase. I’ll wait for the right opportunity — the right wind, the right tide — and I’ll find my way onto my favourite island.