Belfast Telegraph

Star Wars in Malin Head: Donegal caravan park owner braces for battle as Millennium Falcon docks on his doorstep

By Jonny Bell

A Donegal caravan park owner - used to tourists in search of the Northern Lights - has been welcoming stormtroopers, Wookies and maybe even the odd Jedi Knight in search of a different type of star from a galaxy far, far, away.

Cast and crew of the new Star Wars have landed on Malin Head as they prepare to shoot scenes for the latest instalment of the science-fiction fantasy, the as-yet-untitled episode eight.

Holiday homes, B&Bs, hotels and guest houses have been booked solid for months as an Imperial Army-sized fleet of people flock to the idyllic coastal setting as part of the production.

While trailing in their wake there's a rebel alliance desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of the action or a clue to the secrets of the new film.

And, to the delight of many, one of the film's most iconic characters, the Millennium Falcon, has appeared perched close to the edge of a cliff on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Ali Farren owns Ardmalin Caravan Park. He says the production has done wonders for the area and interest will only increase when the film comes out.

He joked that he has had to fight off a stormtrooper - or two - over recent days.

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"There has never been the like of this before - sure Star Wars is the biggest film there has ever been," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The traffic is like an August bank holiday, it has been jam packed."

Filming is expected to take place over the coming days and last for months.

Road closures have been in place around the area, but this has not stopped eager Star Wars fans flocking to the area.

From Friday Malin Head will be on 'lockdown' Ali said, with road closures preventing only residents and holiday makers getting access to their homes.

Although those who use the force may get a little closer.

"Credit has to go to the local council on getting this to Malin Head," said Ali.

"We are used to people following the nature trial, or wanting to see the Northern Lights, but this will blow all that out of the water and bring in an entirely different class of people."

Filming has taken place right across Ireland for both for JJ Abrams last film and the new episode eight.

Skellig Michael - a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the Ring of Kerry on the west coast - featured in the 2015 Force Awakens and was centre stage in the first teaser trailer of episode eight.

A Jedi temple has also appeared in Kerry and work is reportedly underway in Cork on a set.

Ali was tight lipped on what he knows exactly of the Donegal production.

He said: "There's been a  lot of blacked-out limousines and coaches in the area, so we have no idea who is here - and you can't get close.

"We've been told its a walking shot through a glen of some description, but the Millennium Falcon appeared and that's sparked a lot of interest, I can tell you."

The locals in the area have thrown themselves into the spirit of the series with Malin Head Star Wars merchandise and Ali's brother who runs the family pub, Farren's - Ireland's most northerly bar - has painted a picture of Yoda on the gable wall of the premises.

"Skellig Michael was incredible in the films, but Malin Head will be something else," Ali said.

Asked if he was a fan of the film, he admitted he had never seen any one of the seven films, "but I may watch it now," he said.

Episode VII: The Force Awakens was the highest grossing movie of all time on its release in December.

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