Monday 20 May 2019

Skellig locals hope new Star Wars helps business strike back

Paul Devane on his boat ‘Marber Therese II’ at the Marina in Portmagee, Co Kerry. Picrture: Domnick Walsh
Paul Devane on his boat ‘Marber Therese II’ at the Marina in Portmagee, Co Kerry. Picrture: Domnick Walsh

Gavin White

Skellig Michael tour operators are hoping the next Star Wars film will help business 'strike back' after bad weather dampened tourist's spirits.

Fionán Murphy, who runs Skellig Walker Tours, said although it has been "very busy", weather is a "big factor."

"We've had a good run in the last couple of weeks, but it can be distressing and disruptive for us and customers who want to make the trip," he said.

"I had one group there who still couldn't make it out on their third attempt, so you can imagine they were very disappointed," he said.

The scenic Skellig Michael in Co Kerry
The scenic Skellig Michael in Co Kerry

Mr Murphy said "the last couple of years have been as busy as they can be", but there's still only so much business they can get with the limit of 12 people on boats.

Skellig Walker has been in operation for two years and Murphy said the increase in tourism has had a positive impact on the community.

"There isn't a business in South Kerry who doesn't benefit from the numbers coming down to see Skellig," he said.

Paul Devane, who runs Skellig Michael Cruises, said he was hoping for a "bounce back" next year after the Star Wars film comes out in December.

The cast and crew of ‘The Last Jedi’ – including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Daisy Ridley (Rey) – in images from the new behind-the-scenes teaser video
The cast and crew of ‘The Last Jedi’ – including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Daisy Ridley (Rey) – in images from the new behind-the-scenes teaser video

Mr Devane said there had been a decline in business coming his way compared with last summer due to bad weather.

Seanie Murphy's tours can bring 12 people per boat and he said the demand is "very consistent", so the weather is more of an influence.

"This summer hasn't been great actually from May, even though in Dublin there has been some great weather, we haven't really seen it," Mr Murphy said.

Mr Murphy, who lives on Valentia Island, said "mornings especially can really lead to a loss of business if the weather turns."

Tourism Ireland said The Wild Atlantic Way achieved a "major coup" with a new, behind-the-scenes teaser video for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'.

Filled with action shots and outtakes, the video features magnificent scenery from Skellig Michael and the Wild Atlantic Way.

The director of 'The Last Jedi', Rian Johnson, went to Skellig Michael with his cast in September 2015.

The location scouts were so impressed with the Wild Atlantic Way that they came back for a second shoot in May 2016.

Locations in Cork, Kerry, Clare and Donegal will feature in the film to represent the planet Ahch-To.

Irish Independent

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