Star Wars producers donate €10,000 to Valentia Lifeboat

Filmmakers said they wanted to donate before finishing shoot on nearby Skellig Michael

Days before the end of filming on the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise on nearby Skellig Michael (above) in Co Kerry, the producers contacted Valentia Lifeboat crew and said they wanted to make a donation. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Days before the end of filming on the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise on nearby Skellig Michael (above) in Co Kerry, the producers contacted Valentia Lifeboat crew and said they wanted to make a donation. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

The producers of Star Wars have made a €10,000 donation to the Valentia Lifeboat based in Co Kerry .

Days before the end of filming on the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise, Episode VIII, on nearby Skellig Michael three weeks ago, the producers contacted crew members and said they wanted to make a donation.

Operations manager Richard Foran confirmed to local newspaper Kerry’s Eye the sum received was €10,000.

“It was a complete surprise. But I think the lifeboat came to their minds because of what they were doing,” the organisation’s operations manager said on Thursday.

This was a second time around for Lucasfilm (owned by Disney Corporation) in the south Kerry area to film on the Unesco World Heritage Site, named after the Archangel Michael.

The Force Reawakens

Last year, scenes were shot for The Force Reawakens, Episode VII of Star Wars and the first part of a new trilogy due out in December.

Filming on Skellig involved a lot of sea travel in conditions that are not easy, often in choppy seas, Mr Foran said.

Like all 22 crew on the RNLI lifeboat, Mr Foran is a volunteer. He said the organisation does not receive money from the State and is totally dependent on donations for diesel for their boat and other equipment.

“It wasn’t just talk. The money is in the bank,” Mr Foran said.

‘No publicity’

The surprising thing was the Star Wars people did not want any publicity. “We suggested setting up a photo shoot on the lifeboat and such, but they declined - they didn’t want any publicity. They simply wanted to make a donation,” he said.

Like other Irish RNLI lifeboats, Valentia provides a free service, but it is finding it difficult to raise funds.

“We are totally dependent on voluntary contributions,” Mr Foran added.

“But it is getting more and more difficult. This donation is fantastic for us.”

This weekend, the 19th annual Valentia lifeboat charity cycle takes place in south Kerry, and the operation depends on charity box donations.

Much of its funding comes from the UK through legacies, Mr Foran added.

There has been a lifeboat presence in the area since 1864 and last year the Valentia lifeboat celebrated 100 years of saving lives at sea. Crew members have several times received awards for gallantry.