Saturday 1 November 2014

The Kingdom Strikes Back

Skellig Michael getting ready to feel the Force of filming for new 'Star Wars'

Published 25/07/2014 | 02:30

Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael
Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford in the original Star War's movie
Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford in the original Star War's movie
C3PO and R2D2 in the original Star Wars movie
C3PO and R2D2 in the original Star Wars movie

The remote island of Skellig Michael may soon become an unlikely lure for sci-fi fans as a camera crew has visited ahead of filming a much-anticipated 'Star Wars' movie.

Boatmen are said to have been bringing the crew across to the UNESCO World Heritage 6th Century monastic site off the Co Kerry coast early in the morning before the island is open to visitors.

The popular tourist attraction will be closed to the public on July 28, 29 and 30 to facilitate filming a small segment for director JJ Abrams' 'Star Wars: Episode VII'.

The Irish Independent has learned the work crews associated with the filming will be based in Portmagee from Sunday night and will be taken in boats across to the island on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

It is also believed that none of the cast will be filming on location on the island.

There will be a lot of heavy-lifting work required to haul cameras and equipment on to the hard-to-access island located about 12km off the Kerry coast.

It is also understood that those providing accommodation, transport and other services to the team have been tied into confidentially clauses preventing them from speaking about it.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed the iconic site has been made available for a film production shoot on the island.

An OPW statement said: "Skellig Michael is being made available for a film production shoot which is happening in late July on the island.

"The OPW will be providing onsite support through our staff who are present on the island throughout the summer, as normal. They will be continuing to manage visitors throughout and will, obviously, continue to safeguard the National Monument and the island which is a World Heritage Site."

The Irish Film Board (IFB) said it is working across a range of projects but was not in a position to comment on the details of these.

Part of its role is to work with international production companies in connection with the location of film production in Ireland and to assist them in dealing with government departments and state agencies.

South Kerry is set to benefit from a huge tourist boost as a result of the filming, similar to Tunisia's desert and California's Redwood Forest that were previously chosen as locations for 'Star Wars'.

It is hoped that the area's association with a huge blockbuster like 'Star Wars' will do for tourism in south Kerry what 'Lord of the Rings' did for Matamata and other locations on New Zealand's North Island that attract thousands of visitors each year.

Skellig Michael or Sceilig Mhichil, as it's known in Irish, is the largest of the two Skellig islands off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula in south Kerry and was a Christian monastic settlement between the 6th and 8th centuries.

The monks remained on the island until the 12th Century but the ruins of the monastic settlement and the island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Irish Independent

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