Skellig Michael has played a starring role in the recent Star Wars films, but based on what happened in the last film – don’t worry, no spoilers here – it seemed unlikely that the UNESCO world heritage site would be making another appearance in the blockbuster franchise.
Well, based on rumours from the secretive set of the as-yet untitled ‘Star Wars Episode IX’ it seems Skellig Michael – or ‘Ahch-To’ as it is known in the Star Wars universe – could be set for another big screen appearance.
Having had a brief cameo in 2015’s ‘The Force Awakens’, Skellig Michael had a prominent role in the 2017 follow-up, ‘The Last Jedi’, providing the backdrop for the home of self-exiled franchise star Luke Skywalker, as played by Mark Hamill.
Though the Last Jedi crew spent three days filming on Skellig Michael in May 2016, most of the Skywalker scenes were filmed on a replica of the Skellig monastery that was built at Ceann Sibéal.
Based on rumours that have been circulating online – including several sites with a strong record when it comes to revealing Star War’s news – replicas of the Skellig and Ceann Sibéal monastery sets were spotted during Episode Nine’s recently completed shoot at Pinewood studios in the UK.
What looked like a replica of Luke Skywalker’s distinctive orange-and-white ‘X-wing’ spaceship – which was last seen underwater off the Skelligs in the Last Jedi – was also recently spotted at Pinewood.
This has prompted rumours that Episode Nine will Kerry set ‘Ahch-To’ in a brief flashback scene involving Hamill’s arrival on the island.
Whether the scenes were shot in Kerry or not is unlikely to matter when it comes to tourism. The Skelligs brief appearance in the Force Awakens (which lasts less than five minutes) led to a surge in fans visiting the Skelligs. Meanwhile, although it has certainly provided a boost to west Kerry, the Ceann Sibéal shoot has arguably been of more benefit to south Kerry, with many fans visiting the Skellig ring blissfully unaware that most of the scenes they saw on screen were shot near Dingle.