Do you dream of visiting a galaxy far far away? Well maybe you really only have to go as far as Ireland. 8 miles off the coast of Ireland is the island Skellig Michael- used for the filming location in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi as the keeper of the sacred Jedi texts: Ahch-To. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects the Sixth Century monastery remains. The ruins once housed Christian monks in the intricate stone huts seen in the film.
JJ Abrams, director of The Force Awakens sent his filming scouts to the location under the guise of filming a documentary on the puffins that have taken up residence on the islands. The puffins are so prolific they became a cinematography problem for Rian Johnson- the director of The Last Jedi; they were too numerous to get rid of and too expensive to be digitally removed, so instead they were embraced- and the adorable porgs were born.
The closest village you can stay in is Portmagee which has completely embraced its recent surge Star Wars tourism. For 149 Euros you can get the Star Wars package- a two night stay and a t-shirt that reads “May the Craic be with you”.
You’ll have to plan your trip carefully, however, because ferry rides from the main island to Skellig Michael only travel between certain months of the year and a government mandate only permits 14,000 visitors a year to prevent overexposure of the ruins. Additionally, the island is a physically demanding trip. The 660 steps seen in the film are the only way up the island but once on top, the views are breathtaking.
Not everyone in Portmagee is thrilled on the fame of their village and concerns from conservationists and environmentalist warm of the potential harm of an influx of tourists who aren’t interested in the preservation or protection of the ecosystem that has remained untouched for centuries. Others, however, like local business owners who hosted the production company while filming are excited to share their beautiful island with the rest of the world.