Star Wars crew during its two-week shoot in Kerry in the summer.

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Waterville hotel hosted Stars Wars crew during shooting in Kerry

A Victorian-era hotel in the village of Waterville, Co Kerry, has been revealed as the host to the Star Wars crew during its two-week shoot in Kerry in the summer.

Waterville hotel hosted Stars Wars crew during shooting in Kerry

Manager and co-owner of The Butler Arms Louise Huggard has spoken for the first time about what the booking out of her hotel by the crew meant for Waterville, which looks out on Skellig Michael.

The Unesco world heritage island and its early Christian monastery is a much-anticipated location for scenes in The Force Awakens.

Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, and JJ Abrams along with Kathleen Lucas and the crew of Star Wars Episode VII booked the whole hotel out in September 2014 and again last September for Episode VIII.

“It is unbelievable for South Kerry,” said Ms Huggard, who co-owns the Waterville hotel with her sister Paula.

Built in 1884, The Butler Arms has been in the Huggard family for generations. It was a favourite of Charlie Chaplin, who later bought a house in the area.

More recently, golfers Tiger Woods and Payne Stewart as well as actor Michael Douglas and actress Catherine Zeta Jones have stayed there for the golfing and fishing.

Disney is producing Star Wars for the first time, having bought the franchise from Lucasfilm.

“The Star Wars people were most intrigued by the idea that Walt Disney stayed here,” Louise said.

“They loved it. They totally loved it and were no trouble.”

Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, left signed copies of photos of himself in the Return of the Jedi for Louise and her three daughters.

She said newcomer Daisy Ridley was so taken with the view out over Ballinskelligs Bay that she contacted the hotel after she left and asked them to send her on a picture of the view from her bedroom.

While Ms Ridley was popular among the staff, director JJ Abrams was especially lovely, Ms Huggard said.

“They said our food was as good as a top London restaurant,” Ms Huggard said.

She described the boost for South Kerry as “unbelievable”, hitting out at critics of the decision to allow Star Wars to film on Skellig Michael.

While thousands visit the Unesco World Heritage site each year she said, it is only during a short tourism window leaving the village economically challenged for the rest of the year.

“Waterville is like a famine village apart from the eight-week tourist season. Star Wars booked out our whole hotel in September and extended our season and it meant we could keep our staff on for longer.

“Young people would love to remain in Waterville and rear their families but there is no work. The boost for us is huge,” she said.

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