This monastic complex, perched since about the 7th century on the steep sides of the rocky island of Skellig Michael, some 12 km off the coast of south-west Ireland, illustrates the very spartan existence of the first Irish Christians. Since the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael has until recently discouraged visitors, the site is exceptionally well preserved.
The Rock of Cashel, rising high above the surrounding plain, is a most dramatic setting for the location of a complex of important secular and religious buildings.
The first historical references relate to the fourth century AD when the "Rock" was home to the kings of Munster. The history of the complex spans the time from this early date into seventeenth century. The buildings include a twelfth century Romanesque chapel,
St.Cormac's Chapel, and cathedral, a round tower, choral hall and castle. Outside the cathedral stands a very fine carved cross.
Cashel is an important microcosm of significant historical and religious events.
Clara Bog is a raised bogland which covers an area of 665 hectares. It is bounded on the north by a glacial esker ridge and tot he south by cut-away bog. On the eastern edge, it grades into fen and a small ash woodland. The surface topography is undulating with the peat reach depths of over 10m in places. Extensive parts of the bog have vegetation typical of raised bogs with well developed complexes of hummocks and hollows and lawns of sphagna. A few dry, calluna-dominated ridges also occur.
An area of 465 hectares has been declared a National Nature Reserve. Research into aspects of the geology, hydrology and ecology of the bog is being jointly undertaken by Dutch and Irish scientists.
This is an area of universal significance in relation to both natural and cultural phenomena. The Burren is an area of limestone karstland characterised by terraced hills of bare limestone with a well developed underground system of caves. It is an area unique in Ireland. The environment supports a rich variety of rare plants and insects. Its distinctive flora includes a variety of plants with normally very widely differing habitats. A huge number and variety of archaeological sites are preserved here. They represent each cultural phase of life in Ireland, from the Mesolithic period onward. In particular, the wealth of monuments from the prehistoric and Early Chriistian periods is unsurpassed.
Situated on the North Coastal region of County Mayo, Ceide Fields is a fossilized Neolithic landscape which has been preserved beneath an expanse of blanket bog. This landscape consists of extensive tracts of land enclosed by stone walls, a landscape which was formally laid out on a predetermined and organised basis. Assiociated with these field systems are a wealth of megalithic tombs and farmsteads. A series of radiocarbon and dendrochronological dates securely place this fossilized landscape within the Neolithic period. Coupled with this is the important natural phenomenon of the boglands and the rare geological formations in the area.