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Actors with Irish links honoured at Oscar Wilde Awards

Mark Hamill attends the Oscar Wilde Awards 2018

STAR Wars has been a massive boost to the Irish economy and tourism industry, one of its stars has said.

Mark Hamill was speaking after winning an Oscar Wilde Award, following in the footsteps of his late friend Carrie Fisher to collect the honour.

The awards, held by the US-Ireland Alliance, recognise the contributions of the Irish in film, television and music, as well as those with a connection to Ireland.

In accepting his award, Hamill spoke of his Irish father and how he learned much about Ireland from a rich legacy of films. He also talked about filming Star Wars and how The Force Awakens would alone mean "billions for the Irish economy, not to mention encouraging countless Star Wars nerds to make it a go-to destination".

Key scenes in the last two Star Wars movies, were filmed on Skellig Michael off the coast of Co Kerry and at Malin Head in Donegal.

In introducing Hamill, awards host, director JJ Abrams said: "It was between shots, and there we were atop this glorious island in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with Mark, in costume. I started playing John Williams' iconic Binary Sunset cue from Star Wars Episode Four on my phone. It was incredibly emotional. All any of us could think was, I can't believe I get to be here."

Other winners were Belfast actress Paula Malcomson, who starred in US series Ray Donovan, and Home Alone and Best in Show actress Catherine O'Hara.

Malcomson thanked Trina Vargo, the founder of the US-Ireland Alliance, for her role in the Northern Ireland peace process. She noted that the accomplishment of the Good Friday Agreement was "a Sisyphean task," but added that "the country is utterly changed".

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