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Friday 20 September 2019

Days of Hollywood Star Wars-style epics over for fragile Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael, the protected island made famous by Star Wars, is unlikely to be used as a location for further Hollywood-style film projects, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed.

Worldwide interest in the Unesco world heritage site off Co Kerry has exploded since the remote Atlantic outpost featured extensively in galactic blockbusters The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens.

The fragile monastic isle's use as a filming location, however, caused outrage among conservationists and wildlife watchdogs.

The OPW has now indicated that only requests from small-scale "educational" filming projects are likely to be considered in the future.

"There are no plans for any major filming on the island. Occasionally there are requests for photography and filming," OPW spokesperson Maire Ni Fhaircheallaigh said in a statement.

Strict

"Those requests may be granted for educational purposes only, and on agreement to strict rules and guidelines."

Meanwhile, the OPW has confirmed that the isolated outpost will open up to tourists on May 18 for its annual four-and-a-half-month season.

Pre-season maintenance and safety work is expected to get under way next week ahead of the start of what is expected to be another busy season.

Last year, 16,096 people visited the island - which was a fall from the previous year's figure of 16,792, but which boat operators have attributed to the bad weather in the latter half of the season, which hampered landings on the protected island.

The OPW also confirmed that 15 boatmen permits will be granted for the season.

Demand for crossings to the breathtaking 6th century island are likely once again to be high - with strict rules dictating that each boat is restricted to carrying a maximum of 12 passengers a day.

Ms Ni Fhaircheallaigh added: "Assuming the weather is suitable, the maintenance works should commence in the early days of May.

"The aim would be to have most of the work complete for the arrival of visitors from May 18.

Safety

"At first the pier will require cleaning after the winter. Safety checks will need to be carried out, particularly on the slopes above the steps for any rockfall that may have occurred over the winter.

"The gas and electricity will need to be in working order, and also the accommodation on the island will require some upgrading after the winter."

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