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Displaying items by tag: Star Wars

Skellig Michael’s former site manager has expressed his misgivings around filming for the Star Wars movie franchise at the Unesco World Heritage site.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Grellan Rourke — who recently retired from his role after 41 years — gave a lecture at UCD where he discussed the challenges of maintaining the Co Kerry island, which is both an early Christian monastic site as well as an important sanctuary for marine wildlife.

Speaking on filming for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Rourke observed: “The whole thing was very professional but in a way, I think it is inappropriate to use a site like that for commercial filming.”

He also suggested that filmmakers could have digitally recreated the island and its surrounds without “putting anything in jeopardy”.

And he noted how the popularity of the films and demand for fans to visit the location has brought the island’s limited boat trips to full capacity — as well as changing the public perception of the place.

“It’s sad in one way, the real history of the place, over 1,400 years, that the real history is set to one side and the more recent make-believe is to the fore,” he said.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#StarWars - Tourism chiefs’ “cultural rebranding” of Skellig Michael on the back of its appearance in the new Star Wars film threatens to push visitor numbers to “unsustainable levels”, says An Taisce.

According to The Irish Times, Ireland’s national trust has urged new Culture Minister Josepha Madigan to review the impact of both filming activity and tourism at the UNESCO World Heritage site — and put a temporary halt on any future commercial filming on the Kerry coastal island.

The centrepiece of Tourism Ireland’s latest campaign for the Wild Atlantic Way, Skellig Michael has experienced a sharp rise in visitors since its link with the Star Wars movie franchise.

This has prompted concern in some quarters over the sustainability of an important heritage site and sanctuary for protected seabirds.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#StarWars - Tourism Ireland’s latest ad campaign for the Wild Atlantic Way has gone literally stratospheric, as RTÉ News reports.

Skellig Michael is front and centre in what Irish tourism chiefs are calling their ‘first space tourism campaign’, which saw a billboard sent more than 33km skywards on a weather balloon.

The brief clip aims to capitalise on the growing hype for the new Star Wars film The Last Jedi, in which the UNESCO World Heritage site features prominently.

It’s not the first time Tourism Ireland has pushed the Kerry coastal island as a destination for Star Wars fans, and visitor numbers have skyrocketed since it appeared at the end of the previous instalment in the film saga two years ago.

But The Last Jedi, which opens next week, is expected to boost interest in other parts of the Wild Atlantic Way, too, with various scenes shot in picturesque spots between Cork and Donegal.

Published in Island News

#SkelligMichael - Skellig Michael’s visitor season, which closes today (Tuesday 3 October), may be extended to cater for “exceptional” demand.

RTÉ News reports that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed it is reviewing a possible extension to the season, which currently runs from May to October each year.

Visitor numbers to the Co Kerry island have skyrocketed since its appearance in the new Star Wars film series.

Skellig Michael will be a central location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, opening in cinemas around the world in mid December.

The newfound popularity of ‘Star Wars Island’ has not come without controversy, however.

Figures show nearly 14,700 tourists landed on the island in 2016 — more than 10,000 over what’s considered sustainable in the approved management plan for the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Rockfalls and other winter storm damage delayed the opening of the 2017 visitor season by a number of days, while raising concerns about the impact of tourist landings on the vulnerable site.

Meanwhile, the length of the current landing season has been challenged by a boatman on the route, who took issue with the move of the opening date from the traditional 30 March to mid May.

Published in Island News
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#SkelligMichael - Skellig Michael’s opening for summer visitors on 14 May has been cast into doubt by concerns over of a number of unstable large rocks following a rockfall discovered earlier this month.

Safety contractors and OPW staff are currently assessing the situation at the Unesco World Heritage site, a major location in the upcoming blockbuster movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

But according to The Irish Times, the filming activity and increased visitor numbers are not to blame for the damage on what’s been dubbed ‘Star Wars Island’ — more likely caused by heavy winter storms and burrowing by the island’s rabbits.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, evidence of a “deeply worrying” rockfall was found during pre-season checks by OPW staff on Friday 7 April.

Published in Island News

#SkelligMichael - Repairs to storm damage on Skellig Michael are a priority ahead of the summer tourism season, as RTÉ News reports.

The OPW will oversee repairs to six metres of a wall between the pier and the island's South Steps, much of which has collapsed into the sea following the recent stormy winter.

Until repairs are completed, the Unesco World Heritage site has been declared unsafe for tourist landings – many thousands of which are expected this year after the rocky outcrop featured prominently in December's cinematic blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Filming on Skellig Michael for that and future Star Wars films has also been a source of controversy, with an experienced island guide speaking out recently over the impact of filming on the ancient monastic site and its vulnerable marine wildlife habit.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#StarWars - Rumours that Star Wars film crews are set to decamp for the Donegal coast are just that, as the Government department responsible has not confirmed permission.

According to TheJournal.ie, location scouts for Lucasfilm have been spotted in the Malin Head area searching for appropriately dramatic vistas for future instalments of the epic sci-fi film series.

But while Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys has confirmed that a "limited amount of filming" will take place on Sybil Head in Dingle later this year, no such permission has been granted for Donegal – and the minister would not comment on the existence of any talks over the same.

Star Wars fever has gripped the Kerry coast since last year as the Skelligs featured prominently in the smash hit blockbuster The Force Awakens.

But the filming has not been without its share of controversy over repairs to monastic ruins and alleged interference with protected seabird species at the Unesco World Heritage site.

More recently, a long-time guide on Skellig Michael spoke out over the State's facilitating of the two Lucasfilm shoots on the island for The Force Awakens and next year's sequel, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes

#StarWars - An experienced heritage guide's concerns have rekindled controversy over the impact of filming for the new Star Wars movies on Skellig Michael.

As The Irish Times reported recently, Claire O’Halloran – an independent contractor for the Office of Public Works (OPW) on the Kerry coastal island over the last 28 years – claims that damage to the Unesco World Heritage site has been downplayed, with many "control failures" going unreported.

She alleges that Arts and Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys granted permission for the film shoot based on incomplete data on the ecology of the island, a sanctuary for important seabird species.

It's also a location that's being hyped by Tourism Ireland on the back of its featuring in the recent blockbuster hit The Force Awakens.

But O'Halloran reserves much of her ire for the Irish Film Board, which comes under the auspices of the minister.

According to the island guide, the board seemed “completely unaware” of the island's sensitivity as it pushed for the shoot with Disney Lucasfilm – with initial plans for the summer of 2014 providing for a crew of 300 and air-drops of additional equipment before any consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#StarWars - Tourism Ireland is hoping the success of the new Star Wars movie will attract fans in their droves to Skellig Michael and the Kerry coast, as TheJournal.ie reports.

And the tourism marketing board has launched a new video extolling the virtues of the UNESCO world heritage site, which will play a big role in Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga due in cinemas in May next year.

But not everyone will be happy with the growing interest in the vulnerable island habitat for many protected marine species, coming just weeks after Birdwatch Ireland said the most recent film shoot on the island was "not compliant" with the EU habitats directive.

Published in Island News

#StarWars - The environmental assessment under which the Arts Minister approved the recent Star Wars film shoot on Skellig Michael was "not compliant" with the EU Habitats Directive, says Birdwatch Ireland.

And as The Irish Times reports, the wildlife NGO says it will now be seeking changes to close a "legal loophole" by which Minister Heather Humphreys was able to approve the use of the Unesco world heritage site without third party consent under what it branded as a "significantly flawed" procedure.

Birdwatch Ireland's Siobhán Egan said the approval process was a "missed opportunity" for the Government to establish proper protocol for the use of sensitive sites.

An assessment compiled in October by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and National Monuments service found that the Disney Lucasfilm shoot had "no adverse impacts on seabirds, their habitats or other biodiversity on the island".

This was despite previously reported "incidents" that required repairs to stonework, as well as criticism over the lack of consultation – and permission for a previous Star Wars film shoot at the same site in July 2014 in the middle of the main seabird breeding season.

A spokesperson for Minister Humphreys said it was “completely inaccurate to suggest that the minister/department breached the Habitats Directive”.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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Ireland's offshore islands

Around 30 of Ireland's offshore islands are inhabited and hold a wealth of cultural heritage.

A central Government objective is to ensure that sustainable vibrant communities continue to live on the islands.

Irish offshore islands FAQs

Technically, it is Ireland itself, as the third largest island in Europe.

Ireland is surrounded by approximately 80 islands of significant size, of which only about 20 are inhabited.

Achill island is the largest of the Irish isles with a coastline of almost 80 miles and has a population of 2,569.

The smallest inhabited offshore island is Inishfree, off Donegal.

The total voting population in the Republic's inhabited islands is just over 2,600 people, according to the Department of Housing.

Starting with west Cork, and giving voting register numbers as of 2020, here you go - Bere island (177), Cape Clear island (131),Dursey island (6), Hare island (29), Whiddy island (26), Long island, Schull (16), Sherkin island (95). The Galway islands are Inis Mór (675), Inis Meáin (148), Inis Oírr (210), Inishbofin (183). The Donegal islands are Arranmore (513), Gola (30), Inishboffin (63), Inishfree (4), Tory (140). The Mayo islands, apart from Achill which is connected by a bridge, are Clare island (116), Inishbiggle (25) and Inishturk (52).

No, the Gaeltacht islands are the Donegal islands, three of the four Galway islands (Inishbofin, like Clifden, is English-speaking primarily), and Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire in west Cork.

Lack of a pier was one of the main factors in the evacuation of a number of islands, the best known being the Blasket islands off Kerry, which were evacuated in November 1953. There are now three cottages available to rent on the Great Blasket island.

In the early 20th century, scholars visited the Great Blasket to learn Irish and to collect folklore and they encouraged the islanders to record their life stories in their native tongue. The three best known island books are An tOileánach (The Islandman) by Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig by Peig Sayers, and Fiche Blian ag Fás (Twenty Years A-Growing) by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. Former taoiseach Charles J Haughey also kept a residence on his island, Inishvickillaune, which is one of the smaller and less accessible Blasket islands.

Charles J Haughey, as above, or late Beatle musician, John Lennon. Lennon bought Dorinish island in Clew Bay, south Mayo, in 1967 for a reported £1,700 sterling. Vendor was Westport Harbour Board which had used it for marine pilots. Lennon reportedly planned to spend his retirement there, and The Guardian newspaper quoted local estate agent Andrew Crowley as saying he was "besotted with the place by all accounts". He did lodge a planning application for a house, but never built on the 19 acres. He offered it to Sid Rawle, founder of the Digger Action Movement and known as the "King of the Hippies". Rawle and 30 others lived there until 1972 when their tents were burned by an oil lamp. Lennon and Yoko Ono visited it once more before his death in 1980. Ono sold the island for £30,000 in 1984, and it is widely reported that she donated the proceeds of the sale to an Irish orphanage

 

Yes, Rathlin island, off Co Antrim's Causeway Coast, is Ireland's most northerly inhabited island. As a special area of conservation, it is home to tens of thousands of sea birds, including puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. It is known for its Rathlin golden hare. It is almost famous for the fact that Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, retreated after being defeated by the English at Perth and hid in a sea cave where he was so inspired by a spider's tenacity that he returned to defeat his enemy.

No. The Aran islands have a regular ferry and plane service, with ferries from Ros-a-Mhíl, south Connemara all year round and from Doolin, Co Clare in the tourist season. The plane service flies from Indreabhán to all three islands. Inishbofin is connected by ferry from Cleggan, Co Galway, while Clare island and Inishturk are connected from Roonagh pier, outside Louisburgh. The Donegal islands of Arranmore and Tory island also have ferry services, as has Bere island, Cape Clear and Sherkin off Cork. How are the island transport services financed? The Government subsidises transport services to and from the islands. The Irish Coast Guard carries out medical evacuations, as to the RNLI lifeboats. Former Fianna Fáíl minister Éamon Ó Cuív is widely credited with improving transport services to and from offshore islands, earning his department the nickname "Craggy island".

Craggy Island is an bleak, isolated community located of the west coast, inhabited by Irish, a Chinese community and one Maori. Three priests and housekeeper Mrs Doyle live in a parochial house There is a pub, a very small golf course, a McDonald's fast food restaurant and a Chinatown... Actually, that is all fiction. Craggy island is a figment of the imagination of the Father Ted series writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, for the highly successful Channel 4 television series, and the Georgian style parochial house on the "island" is actually Glenquin House in Co Clare.

Yes, that is of the Plassey, a freighter which was washed up on Inis Oírr in bad weather in 1960.

There are some small privately owned islands,and islands like Inishlyre in Co Mayo with only a small number of residents providing their own transport. Several Connemara islands such as Turbot and Inishturk South have a growing summer population, with some residents extending their stay during Covid-19. Turbot island off Eyrephort is one such example – the island, which was first spotted by Alcock and Brown as they approached Ireland during their epic transatlantic flight in 1919, was evacuated in 1978, four years after three of its fishermen drowned on the way home from watching an All Ireland final in Clifden. However, it is slowly being repopulated

Responsibility for the islands was taking over by the Department of Rural and Community Development . It was previously with the Gaeltacht section in the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

It is a periodic bone of contention, as Ireland does not have the same approach to its islands as Norway, which believes in right of access. However, many improvements were made during Fianna Fáíl Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív's time as minister. The Irish Island Federation, Comdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, represents island issues at national and international level.

The 12 offshore islands with registered voters have long argued that having to cast their vote early puts them at a disadvantage – especially as improved transport links mean that ballot boxes can be transported to the mainland in most weather conditions, bar the winter months. Legislation allowing them to vote on the same day as the rest of the State wasn't passed in time for the February 2020 general election.

Yes, but check tide tables ! Omey island off north Connemara is accessible at low tide and also runs a summer race meeting on the strand. In Sligo, 14 pillars mark the way to Coney island – one of several islands bearing this name off the Irish coast.

Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire is the country's most southerly inhabited island, eight miles off the west Cork coast, and within sight of the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, also known as the "teardrop of Ireland".
Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast, which has a monastic site dating from the 6th century. It is accessible by boat – prebooking essential – from Portmagee, Co Kerry. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was not open to visitors in 2020.
All islands have bird life, but puffins and gannets and kittiwakes are synonymous with Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. Rathlin island off Antrim and Cape Clear off west Cork have bird observatories. The Saltee islands off the Wexford coast are privately owned by the O'Neill family, but day visitors are permitted access to the Great Saltee during certain hours. The Saltees have gannets, gulls, puffins and Manx shearwaters.
Vikings used Dublin as a European slaving capital, and one of their bases was on Dalkey island, which can be viewed from Killiney's Vico road. Boat trips available from Coliemore harbour in Dalkey. Birdwatch Ireland has set up nestboxes here for roseate terns. Keep an eye out also for feral goats.
Plenty! There are regular boat trips in summer to Inchagoill island on Lough Corrib, while the best known Irish inshore island might be the lake isle of Innisfree on Sligo's Lough Gill, immortalised by WB Yeats in his poem of the same name. Roscommon's Lough Key has several islands, the most prominent being the privately-owned Castle Island. Trinity island is more accessible to the public - it was once occupied by Cistercian monks from Boyle Abbey.

©Afloat 2020

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