It’s official! Last week, IrishCentral reported that there were very strong indications Star Wars Episode VII would be returning to Ireland, to shoot in the appropriately ethereal Co. Donegal.
The final, pivotal scene in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens, was filmed on Skellig Michael in Co. Kerry, so many people were anticipating a return for the next installment, and location scouts had reportedly booked up many of the hotels in the most northerly peninsula of Inishowen (the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way) for the month of May.
Now, Lucasfilm has directly confirmed that Ireland will be reprising its other-worldly role in Star Wars Episode VIII.
Candice Campos, Lucasfilm’s vice president of physical production, said in a statement that the company “is thrilled to return to Ireland to film several sequences for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga.”
Campos did not confirm that Donegal specifically would be a location, but she did note that “The beauty of Skellig Michael in the final scene of The Force Awakens was stunning and we know the new locations along the Wild Atlantic Way will prove to be equally as beautiful in Star Wars: Episode VIII.
“We want to thank the people of Ireland for their warm welcome and continued support. Ireland has become an important part of Star Wars history,” she added.
Skellig Michael, the small island off the coast of Kerry that’s home to a centuries-old abandoned monastery, ranks high among the world’s most beautiful and mysterious places, and sure looked absolutely stunning in the final moments of The Force Awakens.
But, as a film location, it also presented a unique set of challenges: its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a delicate puffin population meant that the film crew had to be extra careful, and the temperamental waters surrounding the rocky outcrop led to delays in filming, on days when boats could not reach the island.
Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said that her department had been “working with Disney Lucasfilm over recent months in a bid to accommodate the return of Star Wars to Ireland.
“Disney Lucasfilm have developed a strong affinity for Ireland, and I am delighted to see them return to Ireland for further filming around our beautiful and dramatic coastline.”
She also spoke of the tourism boost the Star Wars films have brought to Ireland. “We have already seen how the most recent Star Wars film has brought Sceilg Mhichíl and southwest Kerry to a global audience. Now, further locations around the Irish Coast will experience similar exposure, providing untold benefits to the tourism and film sectors,” she said.
It’s expected that Lucasfilm will reveal more about the film locations in the coming months. With the Wild Atlantic Way, they’ll have quite an array to choose from.
Stretching from Kinsale, County Cork in the south to Malin Head, Donegal in the north, the Wild Atlantic Way runs for 1,553 miles, making it the longest coastal touring route in the world. The route takes in seven counties in three provinces (Ulster, Connaught and Munster) and is defined by its Atlantic Ocean views of islands, dramatic rugged coastline, cliffs and peninsulas.
This video will give you a fair idea of its beauty: