Saturday 21 July 2018

May the Fourth be with you - Ireland gets a brand new Star Wars festival

The Fáilte Awakens

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin and Fáilte Ireland CEO, Paul Kelly launching the new May the Fourth Be With You Festival. Photo Karl Hussey / Fennell
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin and Fáilte Ireland CEO, Paul Kelly launching the new May the Fourth Be With You Festival. Photo Karl Hussey / Fennell
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Ireland has gotten a brand new festival - with its origins in a galaxy far, far away.

The new 'May the Fourth Be With You' festival will run from May 4-6 of this year, and is aimed at celebrating the Wild Atlantic Way.

"Hop in your X-Wing Fighter and let's fly," its website gushes.

The Fáilte Ireland initiative is designed to capitalise on several Star Wars location shoots that have taken place along the 2,500km route, from Malin Head in Co. Donegal to Ceann Sibeal and Skellig Michael in Co. Kerry - and beyond.

Kicking off on Friday, May the 4th (when fans across the globe commemorate the Star Wars Universe), the festival will see events for all ages taking place across the Kerry villages of Ballyferriter, Portmagee, Ballinskelligs and Valentia Island.

Events will range from drive-in movie screenings to guided film location walks, puffin workshops (the movie's porgs were inspired by the local birds), a fancy dress céilí and more, all set against the backdrop of the west Kerry coast.

Skellig Michael, seen in an aerial photograph this winter. The island, with a monastic settlement dating from 588AD, is a major location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael, seen in an aerial photograph this winter. The island, with a monastic settlement dating from 588AD, is a major location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael's six beehive huts seen from the air - the island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael is home to thousands of Atlantic puffins, at least from March to September. These colourful, enigmatic seabirds spend their summers on the island, breeding and fattening their chicks on locally available food which often comprises of high calorie sand-eel and sprat. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
The monastic Island of Skellig Michael was founded in 588 by Saint Fionán - for 600 years the island was a centre of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. It's a main location for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael, home to one of Europe's better known but least accessible monasteries. The word 'Scellic' means a steep rock. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael's monastic huts - for 600 years the island was a centre of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Located 12 kilometres off the coast County Kerry’s Inveragh Peninsula, Skellig Michael is the most spectacular of all the early medieval island monastic sites. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Ceann Sibéal or Sybil's Head, on the Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry. It features as a location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Ceann Sibéal or Sybil's Head, on the Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry. In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the location is used to replicate the monastic Island of Skellig Michael. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
An aerial shot of Skellig Michael, which has six beehive huts situated almost at the summit of the 230-metre-high rock. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael first became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits cinemas on December 15. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
View from Skellig Ring, Iveragh Peninsula, Wild Atlantic Way. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
Ceann Sibéal or Sybil's Head, on the Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Telling a few ‘Porgies’…Local Guide Muiris Walsh of Iveragh Historical Tours dresses as ‘Chewbacca’ in the newly named ‘Porgmagee’ (Portmagee) Co Kerry, where Film Stars and crew departed for Skellig Michael, the Location of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Spectacular: Skellig Island, taken from the air. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

"I have been keen to mark May the Fourth in a meaningful way," said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, announcing the festival.

"I am delighted that events like the outdoor screenings of the film, with the actual film locations visible in the background, will provide amazing imagery for even greater exposure around the world," he added.

Irish locations appeared in both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, providing an unrivalled tourism marketing opportunity.

This winter, Tourism Ireland ran a €500,000 Star Wars campaign that included launching a billboard into space attached to a weather balloon.

“We have worked with local tourism businesses to create a festival that not only gives fans the opportunity to visit the filming locations and take part in some fantastic themed activities but also to learn about the history and natural landscape of the area," added Paul Kelly, Fáilte Ireland's CEO.

See wildatlanticway.com/may-the-fourth-festival for more.

Read more:

Skellig Michael by helicopter: A galaxy not so far away

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