20 Dec 2019
Ireland’s Star Wars journey has spanned 2,000 kilometres of the Wild Atlantic Way
As the Star Wars trilogy finally draws to a close with the global release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, audiences around the globe are set to discover the destinies of their most beloved characters.
Since 1977, the renowned movie franchise has travelled through many galaxies. Ireland’s Star Wars journey, which began in Portmagee, County Kerry in 2014 when filming of the trilogy began, has spanned some 2,000kms of the Wild Atlantic Way – from the south-western Skellig islands to Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head.
Skellig Michael, a UNESCO world heritage site, made a dramatic first appearance to cinema goers around the globe when it featured in the final moments of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where Rey finds Luke Skywalker at the island’s summit.
Skellig Michael’s stone ‘beehive’ huts, sweeping ocean views and trademark emerald green were seen once again by hundreds of millions, in The Last Jedi, as director Rian Johnson, returned to Ireland with his cast, picking up the story in the second instalment of the trilogy. The location scouts were so taken with Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way that key locations in counties Cork, Kerry, Clare and Donegal were handpicked to represent the planet Ahch-to in The Last Jedi, the oceanic planet which became home to an exiled Luke Skywalker.
Locals in Malin Head, County Donegal, were amazed to discover that a Star Wars movie was being filmed in their community. Hugh Farren, of Farren’s Bar recalls the excitement: “It was unbelievable that Star Wars was filming a mile and a half away from us. The buzz that we had for the month was surreal".
Other filming locations included Loop Head in County Clare, Ballyferriter in County Kerry – where the crew recreated the 6th century monastic ‘beehive’ huts of Skellig Michael along a spectacular headland called Sybil Head, and Brow Head near Crookhaven, County Cork.
Visitors from all over the world can continue to celebrate Ireland’s Star Wars story along the Wild Atlantic Way, with the May the Fourth Be With You Festival, which enters its third year in on 4 May, 2020. Based in two of the filming locations – in Malin Head in County Donegal and Portmagee in County Kerry – fans can come and find out what it was like when Star Wars came to Ireland.
More background and stories about Star Wars filming on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way are available here.
Scenes for The Last Jedi were filmed at Malin Head County Donegal
Valentia Ireland, County Kerry
Portmagee, County Kerry
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