Fans of the iconic Star Wars films can combine a look behind the movie magic with a dose of history at one of Ireland’s most important early Christian sites, the idyllic and magical Skelligs Islands. Featured in the latest instalment of the franchise, The Force Awakens, it’s no surprise that filmmakers chose to set part of the film on this secluded UNESCO world heritage sites; as Irish poet GB Shaw noted in 1910, it’s an “incredible, impossible, mad place” that’s “part of our dream world.”
The filming of Star Wars on Skellig Michael has indeed awakened a force and new interest in Skellig Michael. The underlying theme is similar, just as the monks sought isolation and solitude, so did Luke Skywalker. His search for the first Jedi Temple in a setting that appears “otherworldly” has an element of symbolism that bring the era of science fiction. Even the filming itself, with all the associated challenges presents an area of interest that is akin to the further unpacking of how the original monks prepared themselves to embrace isolation on the edge of the world, and how they approached the practical issues of designing and building a currach adequate for the journey and capable of transporting their meagre possessions necessary for survival.