'Star Wars' bosses give Skellig boatmen €1,000 each
'STAR WARS' producers have paid €1,000 in compensation to Skellig Michael boat operators for projected loss of earnings due to next week's film shoot on the Co Kerry island.
The Irish Independent has learned that tour operators to Skellig Michael coast have each received a payment.
They will be unable to bring tourists to the island on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week while the UNESCO World Heritage Site is closed to the public to facilitate filming.
It is also understood that most of the boats operating between Skellig Michael and the mainland have been hired to transport the film crew, equipment and those employed to help out with the production, to the island each day.
The island, which was a monastic settlement dating back to the 6th Century, has been chosen as one of the locations for the highly anticipated 'Star Wars: Episode VII', directed by JJ Abrams.
Access is strictly controlled by the Office of Public Works (OPW) which confirmed the island, jutting out of the Atlantic 12 km off the south Kerry coast, had been made available to a film company for shooting.
The OPW issues licences to local boatmen to operate the boats, most of which leave from Portmagee but also from Cahersiveen and Ballinskelligs.
In total, there are only 14 licences issued and each boat is only licensed to land passengers once a day.
The maximum number of passengers per boat is 12 and fares vary from €50 to €60.
Skellig Michael or Scellig Mhichil, as it is known in Irish, the largest of two Skellig Islands, is not deemed suitable for children. The season and time of the day when the boats are allowed to operate is also restricted.