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Monday 25 June 2018

Star turn likely to see further roles for remote island of Skellig Michael

FRESH PROJECTS: The monastic island of Skellig Michael is expected to feature heavily in the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ movie after extensive filming involving Mark Hamill in his role as Luke Skywalker, took place there in 2015. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
FRESH PROJECTS: The monastic island of Skellig Michael is expected to feature heavily in the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ movie after extensive filming involving Mark Hamill in his role as Luke Skywalker, took place there in 2015. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

Nick Bramhill

Skellig Michael, the protected island made famous by Star Wars, is likely to be used as a location for further film projects, the Office of Public Works has confirmed.

Worldwide interest in the Unesco world heritage site off Co Kerry has exploded since the remote Atlantic outpost doubled up as a Jedi hideaway at the climax of the 2014 blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The monastic island is also expected to feature heavily in the upcoming instalment of the Disney space saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, after extensive filming involving Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, took place there in 2015.

But despite the heritage site's fragile ecology, island chiefs indicated that Star Wars was not a one-off and that future film projects are likely to be given the green light, particularly those focusing on outdoor activities, wildlife, education and tourism.

Barry Nangle, spokesman for the OPW, said: "There is no indication that the Star Wars film crew will return to Skellig Michael. The island has been used for other filming for various purposes in the past, including Failte Ireland filming for promotional purposes, various groups such as Outdoor Magazine, Germany and a number of other educational programmes focused on the wildlife or the monastic heritage of the site. It is envisaged that requests for this type of filming will continue to be accommodated into the future, always allowing for the exigencies of the site."

More tourists could be able to visit Skellig Michael from next year, following an announcement earlier this week about the isle's restricted visitor season.

Mark Hamill in his role as Luke Skywalker
Mark Hamill in his role as Luke Skywalker

The 15 licensed boatmen who make their living from transporting tourists to and from Skellig Michael finished up for the year last Tuesday, as their four-and-a-half month visitor season came to a close.

But hopes that next year's season will be extended have been raised after Kevin Moran, Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, confirmed he had requested a review.

The review follows a long-running campaign for an extension to the season by boatmen, many of whom claim not to have benefited from the increased interest in the island generated by Star Wars.

Despite the rising demand, boat operators point out that they are still restricted to carrying 12 passengers a day over a curtailed season, in which many days are inevitably lost to bad weather.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Carrie Fisher may be nominated for a posthumous Oscar.

Although Fisher received three Emmy nominations during her career, the actress and screenwriter never landed an Oscar nomination.

That may change for her iconic role of Princess Leia in The Last Jedi.

Sunday Independent

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