The monastic settlement of Skellig Michael is awe inspiring but visitors need to be aware of the dangers of the unique landscape.

Following the death of a tourist, visitors to Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast will be made fully aware of the dangers attached to climbing the world heritage site.

Around 11,000 people visit Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast annually. The world heritage site is home to a 7th century monastic site, 218 meters above sea level.

Many visitors to the Skelling Michael are unprepared for the arduous ascent to the summit. The stone steps can be dangerous when slippery, there are no handrails and the trajectory is steep.

For most, the relatively arduous ascent to the summit is worth every step, once the wonder of this well preserved monastery and remote hermitage is revealed.

However in May 2009, a 77 year old American tourist died from severe head injuries, after he fell while descending the steep steps.

While there are warning signs highlighting the dangers of the climb to the summit, the coroner recommended additional warning signs be erected, stating the rock was extremely dangerous for those unsure of their footing.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has accepted the recommendations, but some visitors want to see the installation of a handrail.

There’s no sort of second chances, if you fall off you’ll probably kill yourself, I think it would be very beneficial.

Others consider such a structure would be intrusive and would prefer if visitors were better briefed about safety while on the boat trip over to the island.

The OPW says as well as additional signage, information leaflets will be given to all visitors, and precautionary warnings will also be posted on websites.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 17 August 2009. The reporter is Paul Cunningham.