Boatmen get €1k for Star Wars losses
SKELLIG boatmen have received €1,000 each for loss of earnings while the island is closed for the filming of Star Wars.
The Herald has learned that boatmen operating tours to Skellig Michael have been compensated for the loss of income they will incur on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week while the UNESCO World Heritage Site is closed to the public.
It is also understood that most of the boats operating between Skellig Michael and the mainland have been hired to transport the film crew and those employed to help out with the production to the island each day.
The island, which was a monastic settlement dating back to the 6th century, has been chosen as one of the locations for the highly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by JJ Abrams.
Access to the island is strictly controlled by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
In total, there are only 14 licences issued and each boat is only licenced to land passengers once a day.
The maximum number of passengers per boat is 12 and fares vary from €50 to €60.
The season and time of the day when the boats are allowed operate is also restricted with most arriving on the island before 11am daily.
Tours can be booked out weeks in advance. Such is the popularity of the island that it was visited by 13,221 people last year.
Negotiations between the film company and State agencies for use of the island began around six months ago, but it remained a closely guarded secret with rumours only beginning to leak out locally on Wednesday. It was also feared there would be opposition to allowing filming go ahead by environmental groups.
The island is as famed for its puffins as it is for its monastic settlement ruins.