In a Dublin street far, far away...Force is strong with these Star Wars super-fans
For many Irish Star Wars fans, midnight just couldn't come fast enough.
It might be three months before the next instalment of the intergalactic saga hits the cinemas, but Disney is cashing in early on the new movie with toys, collectables, books and a range of other merchandise going on sale today.
It's been aptly dubbed "Force Friday".
Consumers have spent $20bn (€18bn) on Star Wars gear since the first film came out in 1977.
And last night hundreds of would-be Leias and Lukes lined up outside the Disney Store on Dublin's Grafton Street.
They wanted to be first to get their hands on a plethora of new gadgets from the latest instalment in the sci-fi saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Fans also got an early glimpse of some of the characters in the seventh film in the series.
They were joined by keen collectors of movie memorabilia who were at the top of queue, determined to see what was on offer at midnight.
A number of fans clad in their sci-fi regalia proved particularly enthusiastic.
The event was also very much a global affair, with "unboxing" of the new merchandise streamed live on the official Star Wars YouTube channel.
The unveiling of the new gadgets started in Australia, with similar events spanning 18 hours across time zones in 15 cities worldwide.
The launch has been met with huge fanfare inter- nationally, trending on Twitter under the hashtag #ForceFriday.
The Dublin event proved a raucous riot of colour and noise as RTE star Stephen Byrne whipped up the crowd and dished out spot prizes.
The new film is due to be released in December.
Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson will play villain General Hux of the First Order, and will operate from Starkiller Base, a reference to Luke Skywalker's original name in George Lucas' early drafts.
Domhnall joins returning cast members Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) for the movie which was part-filmed on Kerry's Skellig Michael.
And despite starring alongside some of Hollywood's biggest names throughout his career, the Malahide native said he still got nervous when he met co-star Harrison Ford.
"Meeting Harrison Ford was really something - that was one of those occasions when you make sure your voice doesn't go too high because of the nerves," he said.