Force is strong at Star Wars premiere
The Force awoke in the capital last night as fans from across the country descended on the Savoy Cinema for the premiere of the latest 'Star Wars' film.
Flanked by an army of storm troopers, almost 800 invited guests marched into the O'Connell Street venue for a preview screening of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', which hits cinemas nationwide today.
Outside, Dublin's iconic Spire was transformed into a giant blue lightsaber to mark the return of Jedi knight Luke Skywalker to the big screen after more than three decades.
Speaking to the Irish Independent on the red carpet, celebrity superfan Liam Cunningham told how he had been avoiding spoilers online.
"I've just worked with Mark Hamill on (video game) 'Squadron 42' and he was an absolute delight," he said.
"Mark Hamill, to me, is Luke Skywalker; to my daughter, he's the Joker because he does all the 'Batman' video games.
"I've heard rumours that Luke may have gone over to the dark side - but I've been trying not to read anything about it.
"It's a bit like 'Game of Thrones'," he added. "People want spoilers, but as you soon and you turn around and say. 'OK, I'll tell you', they go, 'No, don't tell me!'"
Directed by JJ Abrams, the seventh instalment in the long-running space saga - which is a sequel to 1983's 'Return of the Jedi' - reunites original stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
Newcomers to the galaxy far, far away include John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, who was unable to attend the premiere, as he was promoting 'The Revenant' in Hollywood.
'Star Wars' fanatic Tom Smith and 18 year-old daughter Emma from Oldcastle in Co Meath used the Force to get last-minute tickets to the sold-out event.
"I was seven years of age when I was brought to the first one and it just started from there," the dad-of-four joked.
"My four daughters really had no choice in becoming 'Star Wars' fans!
"The burning question for me is 'Who is Kylo Ren?'" he continued. "I'm just hoping it keeps to the tradition of good versus evil - the Jedi versus the Empire - and won't go too haywire. It's very exciting."
Partly filmed on Skellig Michael Island off the coast of south Kerry, the movie is already tipped to shatter box office records after taking €50m in pre-sales.
Attending the star-studded premiere, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys confessed she had never seen the movies.
"I've seen a few clips - but I understand that you can watch the (new) movie without having seen any of the previous episodes," she said.
"I think this is going to be hugely important for tourism - 200 million people are going to view this film.
"This is such an opportunity to showcase Ireland right across the world, particularly Skellig Michael."