The monastery was established in the 12th century, at a place which was believed to be the landing place of a young woman and her people who came from Ireland. According to the legend, the woman, Sunniva, fled a suitor whom she did not want to marry. Without sail or ores, they put their faith in God and let the sea and the wind take them away. They landed at Selja, where they lead a quiet life for some time, until local people chased them, accusing them of stealing sheep. Sunniva and her people fled into a cave, and an avalanche of rocks covered them, saving them from their persecutors. At the end of the 10th century, some people saw a light over the cave, and found remnants of Sunniva and her people. She later became a saint, and the place became the seat for the bishop of the whole of west Norway until ca 1170.
Sunniva may not have lived, but it is likely that it was Irish christians who came here and established the monastery.
The ruins were restored in the 1930s. It is a beautiful place, with a view of some of the westernmost parts of Norway, and the open sea.
We have anchored in the bay just below the monastery and will spend the night here. It is a rare chance to be able to lay overnight out here, with the open sea just outside. It is calm and peaceful, us being the only people here tonight.