Republic of Ireland news

Skellig Michael features prominently in trailer for new Star Wars movie

Skellig Michael, off the coast of Co Kerry, features prominently in the trailer for the new Star Wars movie. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

SKELLIG Michael, the island off the coast of Kerry, features prominently in the trailer for the new Star Wars film, with fans getting their first peek of the movie last night.

The island was one of the locations for the filming of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which is due to open in cinemas on December 15.

The trailer, lasting just two minutes, begins with Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, apparently clambering over the mountain where she faced Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) at the end of the last instalment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Malin Head in Donegal and Ceann Sibeal in Kerry were also used to shoot parts of the new movie.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said the organisation would be "taking every opportunity" to capitalise on the film's popularity to attract visitors to Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way.

He said: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens' broke box office records around the world in late 2015, bringing the magnificent scenery of Skellig Michael and the Wild Atlantic Way to the attention of millions of people everywhere.

"The fact that 'Episode VIII: The Last Jedi', due for release this December, was also shot on location along the Wild Atlantic Way is another fantastic coup for Irish tourism – and we’re absolutely delighted that the Wild Atlantic Way features so heavily in the first peek of the next episode."

A serious rockfall occurred at Skellig Michael earlier this month, when boulders fell on to a roadway, but the island's senior conservation architect said rockfalls were a natural phenomenon and unconnected to filming or the increase in visitor numbers.

The Christian site, 12km off the Kerry coast and founded sometime between the sixth and eighth centuries, was occupied by monks until the 12th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Within minutes of the release of the trailer at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Orlando, Florida, it had been viewed half a million times on YouTube.

The previous film took in receipts of more than $2 billion and became the third highest grossing movie of all time.

The trailer for the eighth episode of the Star Wars series also features a shot from behind of actress Carrie Fisher, who played the role of Princess Leia before her death in December last year at the age of 60.

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