Ireland’s profile soars thanks to Star Wars effect

Luke Skywalker actor, Mark Hamill, says Ireland is like a “fairytale world”.

Ireland’s profile soars thanks to Star Wars effect

By Joyce Fegan and David Young

Luke Skywalker actor, Mark Hamill, says Ireland is like a “fairytale world”.

Hamill, who reprises the role of Skywalker in the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, has been praising Ireland since filming scenes on Kerry’s Skellig Michael.

‘’It’s like a fairytale world — you just can’t believe your eyes,” said Hamill, in a short, behind-the-scenes film commissioned by Tourism Ireland.

The short film was uploaded to YouTube this morning and had amassed over 60,000 views by time of publication.

The director of the Star Wars film also praised the Irish landscape’s beauty.

“It’s a gorgeous place. I feel very, very lucky to be able to get it on film,” Rian Johnson said.

Since its release, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been breaking box office records and Tourism Ireland has capitalised on the positive exposure Ireland was getting.

“We are extremely grateful to Lucasfilm and the Star Wars team, for their tremendous generosity in agreeing to make this wonderful behind-the-scenes film, to help us promote the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.

Filming on Skellig Michael for Star Wars: The Last Jedi took place over two days in 2015, before moving to the mainland. To continue filming on location here, the crew returned in 2016 and built replicas of Skellig Michael’s sixth-century monastic ‘beehive’ huts on the mainland.

A Co Donegal man who built the Millennium Falcon space ship on rugged cliffs at Ireland’s northern tip has said the sight of his creation in The Last Jedi sent shivers up his spine.

Eddie Gallen, a specialist in extreme scaffolding, assembled the famous Star Wars spaceship at famed Malin Head.

Sworn to secrecy at the time, and in the months leading up to the film’s pre-Christmas release, Mr Gallen, 48, has now recalled his four weeks last year with The Last Jedi cast and crew.

The father-of-two, who hails from Lifford, but lives in Strabane, Co Tyrone, said the Star Wars team did not give much away, when they signed him up.

“I met them down in Malin Head. I wasn’t sure what they were looking for, to be honest,” he said.

“I knew they were looking for access platforms, etc, and something to support props, but, with the secrecy involved and it being Star Wars and the confidentiality around it, I didn’t know, until the last minute, when I was handed a sheet of paper with my name on it, and it was basically saying you are building the Millennium Falcon here.

“It was a bit of shock. I went back home and my wife and two boys were standing in the kitchen and they said ‘how did you get on today?’, as you would when you arrive home, and I said ‘not bad, I have to start building the Millennium Falcon’.

“They all just stood and stared and said ‘what?’ and I said ‘yes, I have to build it down on Malin Head’,” he added.

Luke Skywalker actor, Mark Hamill, says Ireland is like a “fairytale world”.

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