The Kilcatherine Church and Graveyard on the Beara Peninsula is centuries old, built by the same monks who constructed the monastic settlement on Skellig Michael. The view above shows the Caha Mountains in the background, the spine of the Beara Peninsula.
The eastern end of Skellig Michael showing the monastic settlement on the ridge where monks sought refuge to pray and live in isolation, and so they did for many years until the Vikings came and ruined things. The aerial picture which I took from the Irish Helicopters' Eurocopter 135 in 2011 also shows the landing pier where visitors land from boats every day of the Summer months to walk the path and steps up to the monastic settlement. I take people there every year on my lighthouse tours. The rock features in the new Star Wars film and one must wonder what the monks would have made of it, dressed up in their Jedi like habits, faces shielded by what would be called 'hoodies' these days
Returning to Kilcatherine, where no boat trip is necessary. You simply drive up and park the car, or lean the bicycle against the wall. The graveyard has many delights for the visitor to find, like the cat's head which used to lie on the southern wall until someone pinched it. Brought back to its rightful home it was cemented in place to hopeful deter other thieves. There is also an underground cell in which the monks climbed down into to hide and an escape tunnel down to the sea which sadly no longer works.
The graveyard is important to me because my mother is buried there. She loved to visit during her holidays from Oxford, where her parents are buried in a municipal graveyard in North Oxford where they have the company of JRR Tolkein. The editor of books at the Oxford University Press, 'Harvey's Companion to English Literature' 'The Oxford Literary Guide to Britain and Ireland' 'The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary' she loved to come over to Beara and bought a house here in 1962. We would come over every Easter and August to enjoy the peninsula, go fishing from Ballycrovane, save the hay with pitchforks and generally enjoy being here