Star Wars village Portmagee to ask for donation to new carpark

Lucasfilms/Star Wars is to be asked to contribute towards the provision of a public car park in the fishing village of Portmagee in south Kerry because of the influx of so many visitors

Star Wars village Portmagee to ask for donation to new carpark

Portmagee is the village where Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, learned to pull a pint and where over two filming seasons in 2014 and 2015 director JJ Abrams, and where Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, and other cast and crew were regular visitors.

The Iveragh seafront village is the principal point of departure for the 40- minute sea trip to Skellig Michael when people can make the perilous climb to the 6th century beehive monastic site — the setting for Star Wars scenes.

The village, which is made up of a colourful cluster of houses, a few pubs, shops and B&Bs, is so small there is no official population count — but fewer than 400 people are thought to live there and in the wider rural area.

Now, however, the village needs a large carpark to accommodate the large volume of cars which bring the thousands of visitors who want to have a Star Wars experience.

Last year saw record numbers get onto the fragile monastic site of Skellig Michael, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. Most left from Portmagee.

Almost 14,700 people landed on the island last year, according to the Office of Public Works. The average number of visitors for the last few years has been around 11,100 per season.

Boatmen and public representatives have been calling for the extension of the season, which is currently set from mid-May to the end of September.

They want it to return to previous arrangements when the island would open to visitors from the end of April to the end of October.

This would cater for the increased visitor numbers and make up for the time lost when boats cannot sail due to bad weather.

However, many people are also arriving to take boat rides around the Skelligs and simply to see Portmagee.

Two separate motions by councillors have now received unanimous backing at a meeting of the South and West Municipal District in Killorglin.

Fianna Fáil Michael Cahill said the council has to take into consideration the “huge success of Star Wars, the large number of visitors to Skellig Michael”.

Huge crowds are visiting the area now and a large car- park is needed.

However, the problem is a lack of funding to pay for the site and construction of a such a facility.

Mr Cahill is to make representations, via the council executive, to the film company which was very appreciative of the hospitality it received in 2014 and 2015.

“My call is also for a playground for Portmagee. I will be urging the council engineers to contact the Star Wars people and I am sure the film company will be amenable to the idea,” he said.

READ MORE: Star Wars at 40: How Kerry became the centre of a galaxy far, far away

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