Tourism Ireland have already predicted that the appearance of beautiful Skellig Michael in the latest "Star Wars" film will attract a whole new set of travelers to the monastic site and now they’ve launched a video to prove the real-life island is just as fantastic as it appears in the film.
The mystic Skellig Michael, an uninhabited pinnacle of rock with the ruins of an ancient monastery, rises 230 meters above the sea 11 miles from the small Kerry fishing town of Portmagee. It was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Further proof that the countryside in Kerry – and especially in Skellig Michael – is out of this world came as the site was chosen to appear in Episode VII “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” welcoming the film’s cast and crew to The Kingdom in 2014 and 2015.
The latest video from Tourism Ireland speaks with many of the film's producers about the perfection of the island as a "Star Wars" film set while it follows their journey by boat out to the other-worldly Irish attraction.
The larger of the two Skellig Islands located to the southwest of Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, Skellig Michael is not a tourist destination for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights. Visitors must climb small steps cut into the rock by Irish monks centuries ago in order to reach the world-famous and incredibly well-preserved, early Christian monastic site.
“We needed to find somewhere from another time and place,” said Martin Joy, the film’s Supervising Location Manager.
“Rick Carter [Production Designer] stumbled across a picture of Skellig Michael which is an island off the Irish coast.
“We were just blown away by it. It’s an extraordinary place. It certainly fed into our 'Star Wars' universe.
“I remember when we all flew in, it was special and we knew it,” confirmed Executive Producer, Tommy Harper.
Despite some controversy over filming at the UNESCO site, Harper continued to say that the Irish Film Board was completely on board and accommodating, allowing Lucasfilms to turn the island into a Hollywood set on two separate occasions.
The Irish Office of Public Works and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have been keen to emphasize that no damage occurred during filming and that strict guidelines were put in place and monitored to protect the site’s ecosystem.
Director J.J. Abrams himself expressed shock in the above Tourism Ireland video that they were allowed to film in such an incredible area.
“I can’t believe they let us shoot there, it was so beautiful,” Abrams said.
“I felt the standard had to be authenticity, the standard had to be reality.”
Tourism Ireland hopes that the inclusion of Skellig Michael in the hugely popular franchise will show the beauty of Ireland to a new audience and attract visitors in the manner that "Game of Thrones" has attracted large numbers of fans of the HBO show to Northern Ireland.
The increase in tourism predicted will see 8.2 million visit Ireland next year, a four percent increase on 2015 which was a record year for Irish tourism. The increase in visitors is expected to bring a further $4.7 billion to the Irish economy.
Skellig Michael is set to follow up its silver screen debut in the next "Star Wars" episode planned for release in 2017.
Tourism Ireland will share the promotional video across 14 markets: Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the Nordic region, Australia, New Zealand, India, the Gulf Cooperation Council and South Africa.