“We’re perched on this vertiginous rock, out somewhere in the Atlantic in almost total darkness, with some of the strangest sounds you’ll ever hear in Western Europe all around us…”
Written and presented by Luke Clancy, Skelligs Calling is a sonic portrait of Skellig Michael in the company of world-renowned recordist, Chris Watson.
Surveying the sounds of this UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, Chris captures the gurgling of Storm Petrels - who nest at the island’s monastic summit - and the raucous music of Manx Shearwaters as they swarm around Christ’s Saddle in the dark. But only after we eavesdrop on Chris’s arduous climb of the island’s ancient stone stairway in windy conditions after a journey that has been repeatedly cancelled due to unpredictable sea conditions in the area.
As we make the ascent of Skellig Michael we hear stories along the way. Archaeologist Michael Gibbons explains how in the 5th and 6th century the island was settled by Christian monks, and how, in medieval times, the island was envisioned as a Christian fortress defending against the advances of the devil. Boatman Des Lavelle takes us to the neighbouring island, Little Skellig, where we can hear 27,000 pairs of gannets in full cry. Paddy Bushe reads a poem about his adventure climbing the island’s South Peak. Lighthouse Keeper, Richard Foran explains how rocket fire used to be part of the Skellig soundscape - when sound signals were needed to alert straying vessels in heavy fog.
Skelligs Calling was produced by Kevin Brew with Luke Clancy, with the kind permission of the Commissioners of Irish Lights and The Office of Public Works.
It was made with the support of The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
First broadcast Monday 31st October 2011 @ 6pm.