‘It’s like a fairytale’: Mark Hamill and the Star Wars crew on Ireland

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) has been singing the praises of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and Skellig Michael, which both havestarring roles Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi

“To come back to Ireland was a great treat for all of us because the beauty of that country is unmatched,” Hamill says in a new video for Tourism Ireland.

“You get up in the morning and see vistas where I was sure it was a special effect.”

“The people are so nice. They make you feel like family, they were so welcoming, so accommodating and so friendly. We felt like we were home,” says Hamill. “I mean, having lived in New York for many, many years I wasn’t sure how to take it! I would urge anyone planning a vacation to go to Ireland.  You’ll never find another place like it … I wish we could have shot the entire film there.”

The blockbuster movies were filmed along Ireland’s western coastline, from the northern-most point in Donegal to the cliffs and headlands of counties Clare, Cork and Kerry.

“I got the chills”

Speaking to Joe.ie journalists, Hamill was especially enthusiastic when speaking about Skellig Michael.

“I remember, I had this feeling that rushed over me when I was at the top of Skellig Michael … and in between shots if I turned away and had the crew to my back, you could look out and in this unearthly terrain and the robots by your side and the floating car and the stand, and you’re in this outfit…

“It was very easy to just be transported and really feel like you were in a galaxy far, far away. It was just – y’know, I got the chills. And I never had that feeling again, until – not in Empire, when we went to Norway, it was brutally cold, but snow is snow, I’ve seen it before. In Jedi, we went to the Redwood forest, and again, gorgeous, but again, it was something that I was familiar with.

“Skellig, you’re up at the top, and I didn’t expect this to happen but I was sort of off to myself, and it was just at sunset, and there was the craggy rocks coming up, and I had that same feeling: ‘Oh my gosh, this is like being in another world.’

“Y’know, also, it was built in the 1100s, and you go ‘how did they get these stones out the island in the first place?’, y’know? These monks must have built canoes or who knows, but it is a really extraordinary place.”

“Cultural significance”

Skellig Michael features distinct stone beehive-huts from a Christian monastery that that date back to at least the 8th century. It’s one of the two Skellig islands, which are located off the coast of Kerry.

Because of the island’s cultural heritage significance – it is a UNESCO heritage site – film on the island was only permitted for two days in 2015.

To continue filming on location, the crew returned in 2016 and built replicas of Skellig Michael’s beehive huts on the mainland.

The location scouts then handpicked areas in Cork, Kerry, Clare and Donegal to represent the planet Ahch-to.

Pulling a pint

While in Ireland, Hamill did have some down time and a photograph of him pulling a pint of Guinness got lots of attention. He told joe.ie that he enjoyed music in the pub before popping behind the bar to learn to pull a pint of Guinness. Lee Marvin took Hamill to a pub “back when we were doing The Big Red One [1980 movie set in World War I], where when they finish the Guinness … and they put a shamrock on top.” He also teased his personal trainer by posing with a dog … and a packet of Tayto crisps.

Call us

If you would like to experience your own Star Wars adventure in Ireland (or learn to pull a pint of Guinness!), we will customize a tour of the movie sites on the Wild Atlantic Way during your visit to Ireland. Please email info@irelandchauffeurtravel.com or call 1800 329 9138 (toll-free) to chat to our Travel Advisors.

 

Films In Ireland

Ireland has long been synonymous with the film industry and the country’s rich movie history is often drawn to one of the most famous productions to have been shot here; John Wayne’s The Quiet Man from 1952. This particular movie is cited time and again as its legacy lives on in the beautiful village of Cong, Co. Mayo where it was shot. However, many other films have had scenes produced in Ireland, some well-known and some relatively unknown to mainstream movie audiences. Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, The Italian Job, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Barry Lyndon and The Blue Max all had important scenes shot here as Ireland’s landscapes and rich heritage offered the productions what was needed. Of course we have our own homemade productions, which have been hits with worldwide audiences.

braveheart

 

Films such as: My Left Foot, The Commitments and The Wind That Shakes The Barley to name but a few. More recently Ireland has seen the hit HBO series Game of Thrones relocate to north of our island, to utilise historical sites and rugged scenery within the production. From here you can view on a map the locations of the scenes shot in Ireland. However, the OPW today revealed that a sixth century monastic site is to be made available for a film shoot. And while we have our fair share of monastic sites, the rumour mill is strongly suggesting that the site is one of Ireland’s UNESCO heritage sites; The Skellig Islands off the Kerry coast.  More surprisingly, the film being linked is part seven of one of the world’s biggest movie franchises, the Star Wars series. Visions of Harrison Ford skipping around the Skelligs with a light-sabre at hand are extremely difficult to conjure up; as it’s more likely to be a walking stick in his hand on top of the Skelligs.

starwars 7