When the Star Wars production team needed surreal beauty capable of transporting viewers to a galaxy far, far away Ireland was a natural choice.
The lush greenery, rugged coasts and seemingly barren, wind scorched landscapes were the perfect setting to convey Luke Skywalker's mindset while in self-imposed exile on Ahch-To. Yet simultaneously this landscape also provided the beauty and atmosphere needed to symbolize his potential for rebirth and his return to the ways of the Jedi. The wild Atlantic Ocean and verdant hillsides were also a perfect gateway to a new era for Rey as she left behind the wasteland desert planet of Jakku.
No amount of CGI could ever replace the raw, explosive vibrancy of Ireland as it helped to draw us in to this Star Wars world. Take a tour with us as we map and explore the locations used to transfer this epic saga from production to screen in a country that was seemingly born for this starring role.
Below you can see every filming location together on one map or scroll down for each individual location.
Scenes from Star Wars Episode VII "The Force Awakens" and Star Wars Episode VIII "The Last Jedi" were filmed on the Skellig Islands, off the west coast of Ireland, in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
There is no doubt that Skellig Michael resembles a remote, forgotten planet. A perfect canvas for the lost planet Ahch-To, a water world dotted with small, rocky, uninhabitable islands constantly whipped by the elements. It is here that Luke Skywalker goes into exile while seeking the First Jedi Temple. And here that Rey travels in the Millennium Falcon with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to find Luke.
The first mention of Skellig dates back to 600AD. It is home to some of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland and the monks of Saint Fionán's monastery lived here until the 13th century. In 1996 Skellig Michael became a UNESCO World Heritage site and therefore time spent filming on the Island was limited. In answer to this problem the Star Wars production team had to replicate this setting in different locations.
Even for our favorite Star Wars stars a 24/7 work schedule is impossible. So, Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill (Rey and Luke Skywalker, respectively) had a blast resting up in the small village of Portmagee, just a hop away from Skellig Michael. When your Star Wars odyssey takes you to Portmagee be sure to visit the Bridge Bar where Daisy and Mark joined locals for a traditional Irish sing along and the Moorings Guesthouse where cast and crew enjoyed many a meal. It is hard to believe that this quiet village in Ireland became an epicenter of Star Wars action and is now ‘the place’ to visit for any self-respecting Star Wars fan.
Skellig Michael is accessible only by boat from Portmagee and Ballinskelligs Pier and all trips are weather dependent. Book ahead and remember only May through September.
Malin Head, County Donegal, is the most northerly point of Ireland is the end or the start (depends on where you start your Star Wars adventures) of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is an area steeped in history and folklore and renowned for its fabulous coastal scenery, birdlife and now of course Star Wars.
Eddie Gallen built the iconic spaceship Millenium Falcon at Malin Head for the Last Jedi. He was "a little shocked" when asked. The 12x12 meter ship was brought there from England in sections and was assembled by Eddie and his team. Secrecy was the order of the day and none of the locals had any idea what was being constructed. After the movie’s release he was invited to a special Disney premiere in Letterkenny, County Donegal.
The story of the mythical Goddess of Ireland Banba adds to the mystery surrounding Malin Head. According to lore she was a spirit being who lived in Ireland before the arrival of man. On this northernmost tip there also stands a tower dating back to 1805, built by the British as a lookout during the Napoleonic wars.
This place truly is "Star Wars worthy", bathed in majesty and scientific significance. The perfect match for George Lucas’ imagination.
When Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way was chosen as a setting for these two Star Wars movies people the world over realized instantly that it would be a perfect fit. From Donegal to Clare and Cork to Kerry, this area is synonymous with adventure, fun and beauty. The perfect backdrop as we follow the epic story of Luke Skywalker and Rey on their mission to rediscover the Force.
Loop Head in County Clare is one of the most striking places along the Wild Atlantic Way with cliffs stretching along the coastline and the famous Loop Head Lighthouse offering uninterrupted views over the ocean. The first lighthouse was built here in 1670 and the first lighthouse tower was built in 1802. The present one dates to 1854, it flashes four times every 20 seconds and has been automated since 1991. Furthermore, Loop Head is one of three places in Ireland "that broadcast DGPS signal, which improves the accuracy and integrity of the GPS navigation and position-fixing systems used by mariners".
Since Loop Head was voted as one of the best holiday destinations in Ireland the tourists have arrived. And when you look at the Lighthouse, there is a feeling that soon spaceships will arrive also drawn to its flashing beacon.
For three days the Star Wars team occupied the Loop Head Lighthouse while filming The Last Jedi. Throughout this time, a Temporary Restricted Area (TRA) was enforced and no drones were allowed. My heart flipped when I saw Rey standing in the amphitheatre at Loop Head in the movie. No doubt fans take pictures pretending to be her right at that spot.
Follow the amazing Loop Head Heritage Trail by foot or bike and try an audio guide which will tell you stories of all 14 sites. The simplest way to access these Star Wars sights however is by simply downloading a trail map online, this magical area is only an hour and a half by car from Shannon Airport, no hyper drive required.
And don’t forget to visit Keating's Bar, aka "the nearest bar to New York", frequented by cast and crew.
Ceann Sibéal (Sybil Head)
Ceann Sibeal represented Ahch-To and the first Jedi Temple in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. This is where Luke Skywalker begins to train Rey in the ways of the Force. Beehive-shaped buildings replicated those on Skellig Michael. It all entailed a lot of work and a lot of upset to locals with Disney having to assert its apologies.
Chewbacca, all 7ft 3inches, visited a local school in Baile an Fheirtearaigh and spent the day hanging out with the local kids. The school principal Mairín Ní Chartúir was very surprised and said: "We received a call from the production team asking could they pay a surprise visit to the kids on Monday. Of course, we said yes and were told to not let anyone know about the visit".
Mizen Head is one of the most visited places in Ireland with its beautiful bridge and the Fastnet Lighthouse. It is an award winning Maritime Museum and Heritage Attraction, famous for dolphins and whales, seals, kittiwakes and its native wildflowers.
Some scenes from Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi were filmed around the craggy caves and mine shafts dotting the area. These abandoned buildings and mines provided the perfect scenery for the Last Jedi movie.
Head to Mizen via Bantry or Skibbereen. Both journeys are breathtaking.
The final location used was Brow Head. The Movie bit officially announced that Brow Head would be featured in the Last Jedi a few years ago. On Brow Head the Star Wars crew set up a beautiful headland with an imposing signal tower. Even with the promise of future tourism the locals had complex feelings about having a lot of trucks, security, cameras and etc. in their neighborhood.
There are several reasons on why Brow Head was chosen.
- Stunning views, of course
- Easy area to secure (one main road and a number of holiday houses for the Star Wars crew to be accommodated)
- Crookhaven village. A popular choice with cast and crew because of the friendly locals and the choice of restaurants and bars. All still there waiting for you. The bars and locals, not the stars!
That's it! We hope this Star Wars tour of Ireland was helpful and spurs you on to follow in Luke’s footsteps. Adventure, mystery and beauty await.
If you feel that we missed something, or you have some interesting facts about Star Wars in Ireland you would like to share, please get in touch. It would be great to hear from you.