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Friday 9 December 2016

Artist fears Skellig Michael will become known as 'Star Wars Island'

Imogen Stuart & Edna O' Brien
Imogen Stuart & Edna O' Brien
Skellig Michael

AN ACCLAIMED artist has expressed concern that Skellig Michael will become known as 'Star Wars Island'.

Visual artist Imogen Stuart said that she worried about filming a portion of the next Star Wars movie off the Kerry coast.

She was speaking at a ceremony yesterday in which she was honoured for her work in the creative arts by President Michael D Higgins.

Along with writers Edna O'Brien and William Trevor (who was unable to attend), Ms Stuart was bestowed with the title of Saoi of Aosdana by Michael D Higgins.

"I feel that being a Saoi, I have a responsibility in this country," she said.

"I have to talk about something very important to me and that is Skellig Michael. Because this is such a holy and special island, I'm very worried."

Ms Stuart expressed fear that a precedent has been set by allowing filmmakers at the location.

"I don't know whether other people responsible for the island have been consulted," she said.

"Everything is not as important as tourism. Maybe our country needs money, but we need culture first and foremost. We shall stick to it and fight for it. Now the fans from Star Wars will call it Star Wars Island." MERCHANDISE She said she feared merchandise like DVDs and t-shirts may be sold on the island for visiting fans.

"They may even lift a stone as a souvenir," she said. "Next time, it could be the Rock of Cashel or Newgrange?

"Our dear President was Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and he set up the body which was called Duchas, and I think it would be the greatest legacy for our President if that would be set up again."

Ms Stuart recounted talking to Maud Gonne (whose grandson Ian Stuart she was married to for a time) about Ireland's heritage.

At the ceremony, President Higgins referenced Ms Stuart's work, which includes a bust of Mary Robinson in Aras An Uachtarain and sculptures at Ballintubber Abbey, Lough Derg and Galway Cathedral.

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