Skellig Wars


By Niall McArdle

The Millenium Falcon spotted flying over Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry. source: twitter
The Millenium Falcon spotted flying over Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry. source: twitter

Filming of scenes for the new Star Wars film began today on Skellig Michael, a barren island in the Atlantic Ocean off the Irish coast. Secrecy surrounds the new movie: nobody knows where in a galaxy far, far way the island is supposed to be, or which characters hang out there (although Mark Hamill was seen nearby).

The monastery. source: starwars7news.com
The monastery. source: starwars7news.com

The choice of the rugged island is not without controversy. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because of a monastery built in the Dark Ages by ascetic monks (sort of the Jedi of their time):

Located at the western edge of the European landmass, Skellig Michael was the chosen destination for a small group of ascetic monks who, in their pursuit of greater union with God, withdrew from civilisation to this remote and inaccessible place. Some time between the sixth and eight centuries, a monastery was founded on this precipitous rock giving rise to one of the most dramatic examples of the extremes of Christian monasticism.

Monastic cells on the island. source: sacredsites.com
Monastic cells on the island. source: sacredsites.com

According to UNESCO, the island has

outstanding universal value being an exceptional, and in many respects unique example of an early religious settlement deliberately sited on a pyramidal rock in the ocean, preserved because of a remarkable environment. It illustrates, as no other site can, the extremes of a Christian monasticism characterizing much of North Africa, the Near East and Europe.

Puffins on Skellig Michael. source: southkerrycamerclub.blogspot.com
Puffins on Skellig Michael. source: southkerrycamerclub.blogspot.com

The island is also a bird sanctuary. Birdwatch Ireland is concerned about the impact of filming at this time, as currently it is breeding season.

JJ Abrams (in cap) disembarking from a helicopter in Kerry after returning from the island. source: starwars7news.com
JJ Abrams (in cap) disembarking from a helicopter in Kerry after returning from the island. source: starwars7news.com

So why is there a film crew tramping all over the place? UNESCO is asking why one of its treasured sites is being used this way, even if only for a few days. The Irish Film Board says that filming “has been designed specifically to avoid disturbance of breeding birds on the island.”

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3 thoughts on “Skellig Wars

  1. Niall, I am sorry that they are using an Irish island, and bird sanctuary to boot. However, I really have no interest in yet another Star Wars film. I really, really, don’t.
    Why couldn’t they have used Craggy island? I am sure that Ted, Jack, and Dougal would have welcomed their presence. And Mrs Doyle would have loved to bring them a nice cup of tea.
    Cheers mate, Pete.

    Like

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