Skellig lighthouse occupies the extreme southwestern cliff face of the island, and on the normal route to the monastery one does not get to see this outpost – nor the long-disused, ruined ‘North Station’ lighthouse high up on the western outcrop. These aspects are best viewed from the boat - when the sea conditions are conducive to a round-tour cruise of the island!
The old North station was already closed and on its way to ruin in the 1870s and its contemporary lower lighthouse continues alone. In 1965 this lower lighthouse was completely rebuilt, and eventually in 1986 was converted to automatic operation. Now Skellig lighthouse men - like Skellig monks - are no more. Every function is monitored electronically from the offices of The Commissioners of Irish Lights in Dublin, and technicians visit the station but occasionally to service the equipment – diesel engines, solar panels, and radio communications.
The automatic light still performs its nightly function, but the absence of the human touch and of the friendly, knowledgeable assistance of the experienced lighthouse keeper, is understood only by the seamen who ply these waters, these islands and these rocks.