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The Force was with them… the €1.5m Donegal property where Star Wars crew and Millennium Falcon landed to shoot ‘The Last Jedi’

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Skildren Cottage, Malin Head, Co Donegal

Skildren Cottage, Malin Head, Co Donegal

The Millennium Falcon

The Millennium Falcon

The Millennium Falcon under construction at the Cormacks' property

The Millennium Falcon under construction at the Cormacks' property

The main reception room at Skildren Cottage

The main reception room at Skildren Cottage

Skildren Cottage was designed by architect Liam McCormick

Skildren Cottage was designed by architect Liam McCormick

One of the bedrooms at Skildren Cottage

One of the bedrooms at Skildren Cottage

The redesigned kitchen and lounge with sea views at Breasty Bay House

The redesigned kitchen and lounge with sea views at Breasty Bay House

Pathway to the beach

Pathway to the beach

Skildren Cottage

Skildren Cottage

An aerial view of the two properties which have access to almost two kilometres of uninterrupted coastline

An aerial view of the two properties which have access to almost two kilometres of uninterrupted coastline

Emma Cormack

Emma Cormack

The living room at Breasty Bay House

The living room at Breasty Bay House

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Skildren Cottage, Malin Head, Co Donegal

Breasty Bay House and Skildren Cottage Address: Malin Head, Co Donegal Asking price: €1.5m Agent: Savills (01) 663 4357

WHAT’s it like to have the world’s most famous spacecraft land right in your front garden?

After Emma and Declan Cormack completed an exhaustive nine-year restoration of the famous Castle Oliver in Co Limerick, they and their three children decided in 2015 that it was time for a change, a rest, some scenery and peace and quiet.

“We were already based in Limerick so we started a search for a special coastal property around west Cork,” says Emma. “We kept on going around the west coast and then upwards until we ended up far north in Donegal where we found Breasty Bay House on acres of spectacular coastal ground at Malin Head.

“It was a 1970s-built bungalow looking at the sea with cliffs and beaches. We decided it was exactly what we were looking for and we bought it with our hearts — although we decided we were going to take as much of the bungalow out of it as was possible.”

Shortly after the Cormacks moved in, the adjoining property, Skildren Cottage, with more land attached came up from sale.

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An aerial view of the two properties which have access to almost two kilometres of uninterrupted coastline

An aerial view of the two properties which have access to almost two kilometres of uninterrupted coastline

An aerial view of the two properties which have access to almost two kilometres of uninterrupted coastline

“Between the two properties we’d have 55 acres of what can only be described as truly spectacular ocean frontage. So we bought it too.” Incredibly the Cormacks now had almost two uninterrupted kilometres of some of Ireland’s most spectacular coastline.

“However, the owners of Breasty Bay House told us they’d agreed to let a film company shoot there for a few months coming up and that we’d have to honour that. Not thinking much about it, we said it wasn’t a problem.

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“Later a location manager called in to say hello and get us to sign non-disclosure contracts. The next thing we knew there were buses, vans, portacabins, bulldozers, over a hundred people, security everywhere.”

Also filming in the Cormacks’ front yard were stars Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley. “We didn’t realise it was Disney or that the film was The Last Jedi,” says Emma. “I’d never seen any of the films nor knew much about them. The kids did of course.”

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The Millennium Falcon

The Millennium Falcon

The Millennium Falcon

“There was the strictest secrecy. We weren’t allowed carry phones with cameras outside. One day we had to ring ahead to the film company because basking sharks had come into the bay and we wanted to take pictures of them.

“Mark Hamill stayed for the duration of filming at Skildren Cottage and he loved his time there.”

What Star Wars fans (and perhaps Skywalker himself may also have noted), is that the 1969 modernist Skildren Cottage, arranged in linked hexagonal capsules, has more than a hint of the capsuled settlement on Tatooine that the character had been raised on.

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Skildren Cottage was designed by architect Liam McCormick

Skildren Cottage was designed by architect Liam McCormick

Skildren Cottage was designed by architect Liam McCormick

The listed house was designed by acclaimed Irish architect Liam McCormick whose work also includes Met Eireann’s HQ in Glasnevin and the 1967 St Aengus’s Church in Burt (in 1999 it was voted Ireland’s ‘Building of the Century’).

Workers and craftsmen, including extreme scaffolder Eddie Gallen from Lifford, were then called in to build a 12-metre long model of the famous Millennium Falcon right on the edge of the Cormacks’ rocks. Arriving in twelve pieces, it required serious anchoring against the belting Atlantic winds. “It literally took six weeks to get it up,” says Emma.

The YT-1300 Correllian freighter, whose fame in sci-fi is matched only by the Starship Enterprise, was originally built in just four weeks by model maker Joe Johnston for the first Star Wars movie in 1977. Director George Lucas suggested he “think of a flying saucer.”

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The Millennium Falcon under construction at the Cormacks' property

The Millennium Falcon under construction at the Cormacks' property

The Millennium Falcon under construction at the Cormacks' property

Johnston is said to have taken his inspiration from a burger with an olive on the side — giving the ship its famous projected and glazed bubble cockpit on the right side, and he added its distinctive frontal cargo gripping mandibles.

The Cormacks had to keep well out of the way. “But of course we had to go have a look as much as we could and the atmosphere was really fantastic on the set. And after the filming was done, they cleaned it all up. It was as if they’d never been there at all.”

This was important for Emma who has long taken an interest in protecting the environment and has devoted her time here to rewilding the 55 acre site.

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Emma Cormack

Emma Cormack

Emma Cormack

“It’s amazing the wildlife we see here through the seasons, it’s a really special place.”

The same otherworldly qualities that attracted a blockbuster Hollywood franchise’s location scouts (famously they also filmed at Skellig Michael) was also what attracted the Cormacks to Breasty Bay and Skildren Cottage in the first place, and helped them run a successful holiday let business here. The views run to Fanad and the lighthouse.

“Breasty Bay House looked like a real 1970s bungalow,” says Emma.

“So we started making the sort of changes which we felt would make a difference.”

The couple installed a spectacular new kitchen in a rustic leaning style, with herringbone polished timber floors over underfloor heating, cast iron feature radiators, cosy stoves, internal brickwork and rustic timber finishes were used.

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The redesigned kitchen and lounge with sea views at Breasty Bay House

The redesigned kitchen and lounge with sea views at Breasty Bay House

The redesigned kitchen and lounge with sea views at Breasty Bay House

The result is a home that is indeed very un-bungalow and more like a quality boutique guesthouse of character in standard and finish. There’s a panelled and tiled entrance hall running into the open plan kitchen and dining room.

The kitchen comes with an island, hardwood parquet flooring, exposed wooden beams and a wall-mounted double-fronted aquarium which can be viewed from both the kitchen and the living room.

“The aquarium came with Declan’s interest in all things fishy.” He fishes here from rocks or the boat for mackerel, pollock, lobster and crab.

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The living room at Breasty Bay House

The living room at Breasty Bay House

The living room at Breasty Bay House

French doors lead from the dining room to a terrace area outside. The living room features a wood burning stove, with a sunroom off this. There are three bedrooms, all with en suite shower rooms.

The first floor includes an office/study with a Velux balcony window. There is a bathroom with a bidet, walk-in shower and a jacuzzi bath.

There is also some useful storage room upstairs. To the side is a garage and a boiler room.

Outside there’s a large natural freshwater pond between the house and the sea, complete with frogs and newts. There’s also a private beach with rock features.

Skildren Cottage on about 15 acres was designed by McCormick to maximise the panoramic sea views via its huge windows. It also has direct access to a private beach.

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The main reception room at Skildren Cottage

The main reception room at Skildren Cottage

The main reception room at Skildren Cottage

There’s an open plan kitchen/sitting room with sliding patio doors, a dining room with large windows to the sea. The master bedroom suite en suite shower room is off this living space.

There are three further bedrooms including one en suite, and a shared bathroom on a connecting corridor. Skildren extends to approximately 1,567 sq ft.

Now the Cormacks are selling up.

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Pathway to the beach

Pathway to the beach

Pathway to the beach

The entire on 55 acres with 1,850m of Donegal sea frontage is on offer for €1.5m. They will consider selling Breasty Bay House on nine acres for €750,000 and Skildren Cottage on 15 acres for €650,000.

And now that ‘The Force’ is with them, local tourism chiefs have established a ‘May the Fourth’ Star Wars Festival (each May 4 of course) and they’ve renamed the coast road the R2D2.



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