Star Wars Island Ireland is how Skellig Michael has come to be known colloquially. Keep reading to learn more about Ireland’s extragalactic connections.
The two jagged Skellig rocks explode out of the sea roughly 8 miles (12 km) off the coast southwest Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula (often known as the Ring of Kerry). The larger of the two, Skellig Michael (officially the Great Skellig) is the larger of the two, and is the only one with a harbour. Little Skellig can only be seen from water, or from Skellig Michael. Ironically, this means that the Little Skellig island is possibly more photographed than Skellig Michael!
The closest port of call is Portmagee, where the majority of boats sail from. The islands are weather-beaten and isolated – giving a sense of being at the edge of the world!
Fast forward to the end of 2017 when Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was released, where fans spent large portions of the film with Luke Skywalker, Rey and a newly-introduced species called porgs (inspired by Skellig Michael’s real-life puffins) – all on Skellig Michael. It is here where Luke Skywalker has been hiding since Episode VII, and where Rey comes to find him. And it is here, on this rugged, desolate island, that Rey slowly convinces him to train her in the ancient art of the jedi – and where she first discovers her connection to the Force.
The pointed, jagged islands feature throughout the film, and their iconic triangular shape makes them stand out – both on and off screen! However, most of the close-up scenes during Rey’s interaction with Luke are actually filmed on Malin Head, a craggy, desolate headland literally at the end of the world (well, at the end of Ireland!) in County Donegal, the farthest northern reaches of Ireland.
So you’re a Star Wars fan? Learn more about Ireland’s earlier connections with Star Wars, notably, the 2015 film, Episode VIII – The Force Awakens.
Skellig Michael hasn’t always been inhabited by lonesome Jedi – in fact, the living arrangements of Luke and Rey mirror the island’s former occupants. Clinging to the sides of Skellig Michael are a huddle of beehive huts. These amazing and iconic rounded stone huts date back to the 6th – 8th century, when a Gaelic Christian monastery was founded on this remote, inhospitable island, home to a handful of monks who wanted to cut themselves off from the rest of society in order to seek solace.
Star Wars island Ireland has always been a remote place, inhabited by those wishing to escape from the world while protecting sacred texts – be they Jedi or monks protecting ancient Christian texts or sacred Jedi texts.
Atlantic Puffins (the only species of puffins from the Atlantic) are regular visitors to the Skelligs in spring and early summers in order to breed and raise their chicks in a protected and controlled environment before heading off as far as Canada in search of food.