Monday 5 December 2016

Artist fears Skellig will be known as 'Star Wars Island'

Ciara Treacy

Published 16/09/2015 | 02:30

President Michael D Higgins with Imogen Stuart during an Aosdá ceremony in Dublin yesterday at which she was conferred with the title of Saoi of Aosdána. Photo: Gareth Chaney
President Michael D Higgins with Imogen Stuart during an Aosdá ceremony in Dublin yesterday at which she was conferred with the title of Saoi of Aosdána. Photo: Gareth Chaney

An acclaimed artist has expressed her concern that Skellig Michael will become known as "Star Wars Island".

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Sculptor Imogen Stuart said she worried about filming for the new 'Star Wars' movie at the protected heritage site off the Kerry coast.

She was speaking at a ceremony yesterday in which she was honoured for her work in the creative arts by President Michael D Higgins. Along with writers Edna O'Brien and William Trevor, Ms Stuart was bestowed the title of Saoi of Aosdána.

"I feel that being a Saoi, I have a responsibility in this country," she said.

"I have to talk about something very important to me and that is Skellig Michael. Because this is such a holy and special island, I'm very worried."

Ms Stuart said she was worried a precedent had been set by allowing filming at the location.

"Everything is not as important as tourism. Maybe our country needs money, but we need culture first and foremost.

"Now all the fans from 'Star Wars', they will call it 'Star Wars Island'."

She discussed how merchandise such as DVDs and T-shirts may be sold on the island for visiting fans. "They may even lift a stone as a souvenir," she said.

"What about next time, it could be the Rock of Cashel or Newgrange?"

She called for President Higgins to re-establish former heritage body Dúchas to resolve the issue.

Ms Stuart recounted talking to Maud Gonne, whose grandson Ian Stuart she was married to for a time, about Ireland's heritage.

Irish Independent

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