An island off Ireland's coast is wowing audiences at screenings of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
Since 1977, the record-breaking movie franchise has travelled through many galaxies, and this time, director JJ Abrams along with cast and crew jetted into a little village called Portmagee, County Kerry, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. From here, they travelled eight miles (12 Km) by sea to a dream film location, Skellig Michael.
Unveiled in the film’s closing minutes, this closely guarded secret ending to Episode 7 was filmed in September 2014 on Skellig Michael Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Locals were told a documentary was being filmed but were amazed when they realised that Star Wars was being filmed in their community. Gerard Kennedy of ‘The Bridge Bar and Moorings Guesthouse’ in Portmagee, said:
“It’s been so hard to keep this secret! It was such a weird and wonderful experience for our small village to be part of the Star Wars story. We enjoyed evenings of music and dance in our bar with the cast and crew. Mark Hamill even learned how to pull a pint with our barman, Ciaran Kelly!”
TV and Film are recognised as strong influencers on travellers, with up to 35% of people being impacted in their choice of destination by what they see on screen. Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, comments:
“Star Wars filming in Ireland will bring the magnificent scenery of Skellig Michael to the attention of millions of people around the world. It’s a really effective way to reach audiences, helping to significantly boost awareness of the Skelligs, the South West and Ireland in general, whetting peoples’ appetites to come and visit.”
Skellig Michael is accessible only by boat. Today it’s inhabited solely by birds, but monks settled here over a millennium ago and the beehive huts that they lived in are restored and can be visited from May to September each year, but advance booking is essential.
Kerry, is aptly also one of only three Gold Tier International Dark Sky reserves in the world. The beautiful band of the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, star clusters and nebulas are just some of the naked eye wonders to see without the aid of any astronomical equipment or filters.