Skellig boatmen feel Force of 'Star Wars'
Published 16/05/2016 | 02:30
The Force has awakened in south Kerry. On the first day that Skellig Michael reopened to visitors for the summer season, each of the 12 boats licensed to land passengers was full to capacity.
The seaside village of Portmagee was a hive of activity on Sunday morning, with 108 people gathered at the pier for 9.30am.
A total of 144 people got to visit the island - one of only two Unesco World Heritage sites in this country - which featured in the latest instalment in the 'Star Wars' saga.
It has been an anxious time for boatmen over the past week.
A rockfall on Monday on the larger Skellig island, that houses the sixth-century monastic settlement, forced the delay of the site reopening until the Office of Public Works was satisfied it was safe.
Annika Schuster and Dana Wengert from Kiel in Germany had planned their trip to Ireland around 'Star Wars Episode VII'. Both work at a cinema in Kiel and are avid fans.
"When I saw the movie, I thought that looked like somewhere in northwestern Europe and then I Googled it and found out it was Skellig Michael," Annika told the Irish Independent.
"It's been the highlight of our trip so far," said Dana. "We tried to recreate the scene where Rey (Daisy Ridley) hands the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and took pictures."
Terra Amelang and Dan Kroszner from Colorado, USA, felt lucky to have got onto the island as part of their 12-day trip to Ireland.
"We didn't realise you had to book but we got to go on standby," said Terra.
"It was definitely a perk, but we also wanted to see the monastic settlement and it was amazing, stunning," added Dan.
Boatman Paul Devane of the Marber Therese, says bookings have doubled, which he puts down to a mix of the 'Star Wars' effect and Portmagee being on the Wild Atlantic Way route.