Star Wars: May the 4th be with Skellig Michael

Event features screenings of films and a céilí featuring Irish dancers in Star Wars costume


The Force is all-powerful in Co Kerry, as Star Wars fans flocked today to the first ever May The 4th Be With You festival.

Enthusiasts dressed as Darth Vader, a Stormtrooper and Chewbacca travel out around Skellig Michael in the Atlantic, which starred in the last two films in the Star Wars franchise.

Skellig Michael, a sheer-sided island 12 miles off the southwest of Co Kerry, was the location for famed scenes where Luke Skywalker meets Rey.

The World Heritage site was inhabited by monks from around the 6th century for about 500 years who lived in stone beehive-shaped huts in a monastery clinging to the cliff faces on the 714ft high rock.

Now, fans are drawn to visit locations where The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were filmed.

Unable to land on the outcrop, as it is only accessible to the public from later in May until September, costumed fans posed for pictures in the shadow the Skellig.

Jamie Kenny (24), of Drogheda, Co Louth, was dressed as his childhood favourite character of a shadowtrooper.

‘Certainly an experience’

A member of a charitable organisation of Star Wars fans, the 501st Garrison, which organises fundraising and hospital visits for children, he discovered on the boat trip stormtroopers can suffer seasickness.

He said: “It was certainly an experience. It was really good to see the filming locations.

“During the festival I’m planning on going to workshops, the film screening and I’ll be in costume trying to make as many people smile as I can. And scare them.

“I’ll definitely be back next year. It was great to see Ireland feature in the film – and hopefully it will put Ireland on the map.”

Gabriel Butler (69), lives in Portmagee where several events were taking place for the three-day festival, organised by national tourism body Fáilte Ireland.

He turned from hosting events as famed smuggler Captain Magee to donning a Darth Vader outfit when the Star Wars boom hit the village.

He has visited the filming site several times previously and said it was a very special place, well before its recent stardom.

‘The Force is amazing’

He said: “Talk about ‘The Force is with you’. The Force on the top of Skellig Michael is amazing. There’s energy lines, ley lines, that meet there.”

Ciara Sugrue, head of festivals at Fáilte Ireland, said: “One of the biggest movie companies in the world were so impressed with the stunning landscape they chose to give Ireland a starring role in their last two movies.

“We wanted to give fans the chance to experience it for themselves, and what better to start that than on May the 4th, globally known as the day fans celebrate all things Star Wars.”

As well as screenings of the films and a céilí featuring Irish dancers in Star Wars costume, there is the chance for fans to follow in the footsteps of star Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in a pint-pulling challenge. – Press Association