The remote island off Irish coast about to feel the force
Star Wars to film on Skellig Michael
Star Wars is coming to a remote island off the west coast of Ireland.
Scenes for the new movie will be filmed on Skellig Michael, best known as a retreat for medieval Irish monks.
The news of the lcoation leaked out after the production company behind the filming of the movie franchise forked out 1,000 euros each in compensation to boatmen for loss of earnings before a camera even rolled.
The boatmen operating tours to Skellig Michael each received the money for the loss of income they will incur on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week while the UNESCO World Heritage Site is closed to the public to facilitate the shoot.
It is also understood that most of the boats operating between Skellig Michael and the mainland have been employed to transport the film crew, equipment and those employed to help out with the production to the island each day. The island, which was a monastic settlement dating back to the 6th century, has been chosen as one of the locations for the highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by JJ Abrams.
Access to Skellig Michael is strictly controlled by the Irish Office of Public Works (OPW), which confirmed the island, jutting out of the Atlantic 12 km off the south Kerry coast, had been made available to a film company for shooting.
Such is the popularity of the island that it was visited by 13,221 people last year.
Negotiations between the film company and State agencies for use of it began around six months ago.
But it remained a closely guarded secret, with rumours only beginning to leak out locally on Wednesday.
It was also feared there would be opposition to allowing filming to go ahead by environmental groups.
The island is as famed for its puffins as it is for its monastic settlement ruins.
Star Wars star Mark Hamill revealed he had to grow a beard for his return to the series, and said his casting in the seventh movie was "an unexpected gift" for the "old guard".
The actor played Luke Skywalker in the original trio of Star Wars films and he is reprising his role for the new film – along with former co-stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Hamill said he had heard Ford was "doing well" with his ongoing recovery from an accident on-set last month, which left him with a broken leg. It's thought he was hit by a 'spaceship' door.
Star Wars: Episode VII is due to be released in cinemas on December 18, 2015.