Skellig Michael, the rugged, isolated island off Ireland’s south west coast, returns to play a starring role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And once again, Tourism Ireland is expecting a bumper crop of tourists this spring and summer.
We got a glimpse of the UNESCO Heritage Site, seven miles off the coast of County Kerry, in the final scenes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as the hideaway home of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who had vanished, taking his Jedi Master skills with him.
Rey (Daisy Ridley) had tracked him down to enlist his help in battling the forces of the Dark Side, who have won and lost so many battles in the 30-year-plus, eight film Star Wars franchise of intergalactic warfare in the battle between good and evil.
Here’s a “refresher course” from the New York Times on all the characters of Star Wars, including the newest ones.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi sequel opens with her pressing her case for him to teach his Jedi secrets to a new generation of warriors, light sabers and all.
Luke’s monastic-like life is well suited to the history of Michael Skellig Island, which was home to Gaelic Christian monks for some 500 years, from the 6th or 8th century to the 12th.
Stepped stone paths cut into the steep terrain, igloo-like stone dwellings and food storage structures, and a cemetery they built have survived.
There are just few inhabitants of Skellig Michael, and its baby sister island, Little Skellig, enough to operate a pub and a small guesthouse for the hundred-or-so tourists who visit each day during nice weather.
The humans are outnumbered by thousands of puffins, who nest here between March and August for their breeding season, which is also tourist season. Until the Star Wars films, visitors came to see the puffins. Now, of course, they also come to see where Luke and Rey hung out.
The colorful puffins, a protected species, are the inspiration for the cute little Porgs who waddle around this latest Star Wars movie.
The only way to get to Skellig Michael is by boat – or Milennium Falcon – and they won’t dock in rough seas, which is often. It’s a one-hour trip from Portmagee to the rocky island, which rises more than 700 feet from the sea.
Tourism is limited, so if you are interested, a boat reservation is absolutely required.
Photo courtesy Failte Ireland (Ireland Tourism)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi official trailer and Porg photo courtesy Lucasfilms
Photo Atlantic Puffin courtesy Wikipedia