In December Disney released the first of the new Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens, 10 years after the last instalment hit the big screen. Episode 7 welcomed back the stars of the original trilogy including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. We were also introduced to new rising stars in Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
But the most significant cast member, in our eyes, has to be County Kerry’s Skellig Islands. You’ll recognise it as the planet ‘Ahch-To’ where Luke Skywalker’s is found at the end of the movie. These beautiful islands have struck a chord with the worldwide audience, especially once they realised these towering land masses weren’t the work of CGI.
The Star Wars production team spent quite a bit of time filming in County Kerry having received special permissions from the Irish government and were carefully monitored as to protect the fascinating history and ancient structures found on the islands.
As early as the 6th century monks, led by St. Fionán, moved here from the mainland to establish a monastery. To this day remains of this monastery are incredibly well-preserved and are famous in archaeological circles. There’s 6 bee hive cells, two oratories and a wealth of stone crosses and slabs. Visitors will be stunned by the feats of engineering that took place here well over a thousand years ago. The settlement was dedicated to Saint Michael between the 10th and 11th centuries and a medieval church was built in his honour which can still be seen today. The settlement was abandoned around the 13th century due to the increase of stormy weather and possibly a restructuring to the Irish Church.
Tourism in the area is expected to boom following its big screen debut paired with it’s location along Ireland’s hugely successful Wild Atlantic Way. You’ll find a dedicated visitors centre on the shore of the mainland and boat tours that will bring you on a fascinating journey around these magnificent islands.
Have a behind the scenes look at the filming of Star Wars on Skellig Michael in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjnGRTATRdg