Legendary Star Wars actor Mark Hamill will appear at St Patrick’s parade in Dublin
Legendary Star Wars actor Mark Hamill has been named as this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival’s international guest of honour.
Hamill, known for his Star Wars role of Luke Skywalker, will be a special guest in the presidential stand in Dublin to view the national festival parade on March 17.
Susan Kirby, St. Patrick’s Festival CEO said: “The role of International Guest of Honour is something we have been considering for a few years. There are so many examples of Irish people and the diaspora achieving eminence across many different art forms and disciplines worldwide.”
“Many of these have a special connection with Ireland and we want to celebrate and recognise this. Mark has a special affinity to Ireland through his filming of Star Wars and family history and has done much for our film industry. We’re looking forward to welcoming him back ‘home’ to celebrate our national holiday and St. Patrick’s Festival with us.”
Hamill has researched his family history and has found that he has a double-link to Ireland.
His great-grandmother Elizabeth Keating was born in Kilkenny on December 6, 1873 and left Ireland for America when she was still a teenager.
His grandparents John Keating married Margaret Foley of Gurteen married in Carlow Cathedral in 1822.
A second family line connects Mark to the Harvey family, possibly from Donegal, who were Famine immigrants that settled in America. In 1864, Frederick Mumford, a young English sailor was married in New Jersey to Mary Harvey, a recent Irish immigrant. These are Mark's great-great-grandparents.
The young couple moved to New York City and settled in Manhattan where they had five children.
Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Festivals, Ciara Sugrue said: “The Force will truly be with us on March 17 and we are delighted to hear that Mark Hamill will be joining us as the first ever St Patrick’s Festival international guest of honour.”
“Since filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens in county Kerry, Mark has been a great ambassador for Ireland and it is amazing to have someone of such universal – even galactic - acclaim in this new honorary role.”
Skellig Michael, the legendary island off the coast of Kerry, features in the Star Wars film when Rey tracked down the long-lost Luke Skywalker, portrayed by Mark Hamill.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “We in Tourism Ireland are extremely grateful to Mark for his wonderful comments about the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland.”
“Our Star Wars campaign, including our films with Mark Hamill praising the beauty and people of Ireland, has been seen by over 8 million people around the world – whetting peoples’ appetites to come and visit the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland.”