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Table of Contents
- 1 Star Wars Ireland Locations Intro
- 2 Where was Star Wars filmed in Ireland?
- 3 Skellig Michael Ireland aka Luke Skywalker’s island on AHCH-TO
- 3.1 What is Skellig Michael?
- 3.2 The Star Wars Skellig Michael similarities
- 3.3 How to do a Skellig Michael tour?
- 3.4 What you need to know before you visit Skellig Michael / Skellig Michael Tips
- 3.5 Where to stay near the Skellig islands?
- 4 What are the other Star Wars Filming Locations Ireland is known for?
- 5 Brow Head Star Wars Locations
- 6 Dingle Peninsula Star Wars Locations
- 7 Loop Head Star Wars Locations
- 8 Malin Head Star Wars Locations
- 9 Other Ireland Star Wars points of interest and connections
Star Wars Ireland Locations Intro
(Warning: This guide contains spoilers of Star Wars Episodes VII-IX.)
The Force is definitely strong in Ireland since it became the site for key Star Wars filming locations. Star Wars Episode VII “The Force Awakens” (2015), Star Wars Episode VIII “The Last Jedi” (2017) and Star Wars Episode IX “The Rise of Skywalker” (2019), feature key scenes filmed in Ireland.
Justifiably so. Ireland boasts locations of otherworldly beauty and wild nature perfectly fit for the Star Wars universe.
With filming locations along the Wild Atlantic Way, such as at the UNESCO World Heritage site Skellig Michael off the coast of County Kerry, Malin Head in County Donegal, Loop Head in County Clare, Brow Head in County Cork and Sybil Head (or Ceann Sibéal in Irish) and Dunmore Head on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, the Star Wars crew picked some of the most beautiful Irish filming locations on the south-west coast of the island.
If you travel to Ireland and are keen to see some of the Ireland Star Wars filming locations and are wondering where in Ireland Star Wars was filmed (maybe you even have more specific questions such as “Where was the last scene of “The Force Awakens” filmed?’ or “What is that Star Wars island in Ireland that Luke Skywalker seeks exile and how do I get there?”), this guide has you covered!
Looking for more information about visiting Ireland? Check out these posts:
- The Ultimate Ireland Guide to Harry Potter
- 6 Reasons why you should explore the Wild Atlantic Way
- Dublin 3-day itinerary – Discover Dublin’s highlights
I will tell you exactly where you find Star Wars Ireland filming locations and also tell you where the crew stayed, in which pubs they socialised, what other Irish Star Wars connections there are and much more!
Heads up: As these Star Wars locations in Ireland are quite spread apart, you may pick your favourites. My personal top three would be definitely Skellig Michael, Malin Head and Sybil Head (in this order of preference).
If you want to see all of these Star Wars locations, you may want to rent a car, as it is roughly 600 km (ca. 372 miles) from Brow Head all the way in the south to Malin Head all the way in the north. Also consider that you need to drive sometimes on narrow country roads.
Where was Star Wars filmed in Ireland?
Filming for scenes from Star Wars Episode VII “The Force Awakens” were filmed on Skellig Michael, about 11.6 km / 7 miles off the west coast of Ireland in County Kerry, in September 2014. Scenes from Star Wars Episode VIII “The Last Jedi” were filmed also on Skellig Michael in September 2015. Additional filming for “The Last Jedi” were filmed in Malin Head in County Donegal, Loop Head in County Clare, Brow Head in County Cork and Sybil Head and Dunmore Head on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry in May 2016. Scenes from Star Wars Episode IX “The Rise of Skywalker” were also filmed in all of the aforementioned locations in May 2016 with the exception of Skellig Michael.
Skellig Michael Ireland aka Luke Skywalker’s island on AHCH-TO
Let’s start with the absolute highlight: Skellig Michael (or Sceilg Mhichíl in Irish). This is the island in Ireland where Star Wars was filmed. To be precise: Filming took place at several different locations along the Irish west coast. These technical details may be difficult to spot, as all Star Wars scenes shot in Ireland were made to resemble the Skellig Michael filming location aka AHCH-TO.
In the Star Wars astrography AHCH-TO is located in the Unknown Regions. It is not only the birthplace of the Jedi Order, but also holds their ancient library and the first Jedi Temple. It is the sacred place in the Jedi world and for anybody believing in the Force. Additionally, it is also the hiding place of Luke Skywalker in “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” and where Luke Skywalker’s death (at least we can presume so at this stage) takes place.
It is the place where Rey, R2-D2 and Chewbacca travel in the Millennium Falcon to find The Last Jedi. The Skellig island is also the place where Rey in “The Rise of Skywalker” gets the last piece of advice from the spirit of Luke who provides her with the strength and wisdom to travel to Exegol and defeat her grandfather Palpatine. In the last scene on AHCH-TO, we see how Luke uses his Force to lift his old X-Wing fighter out of the water and then passes it on to Rey.
So make sure you visit Skellig Michael. Star Wars fans just absolutely need to marvel at this stunning place.
What is Skellig Michael?
In real life, Skellig Michael, also called the Great Skellig, is the biggest island of two (its twin island is Little Skellig) that are roughly 11.6 km (about 7 miles) off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. There is actually also a third Skelligs rock called Lemon Rock which was used in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Here you can read more about this.
In the middle ages, monks lived on Skellig Michael and believed it to be the edge of the world. Nowaday, it is a bird sanctuary inhabited by thousands of gannets, puffins and other seabirds. There are so many birds on the island that when I visited Skellig Michael for the first time, I thought the white bits of the Skellig rocks would be snow. It turned out to be bird poop.
One thing is for sure: This place is absolutely magical and won’t be a let down for anybody who visits it.
In 1910, George Bernard Shaw accurately described Skellig Michael as “[t]he most fantastic and impossible rock in the world … [a]n incredible, impossible, mad place [that] does not belong to any world that you and I have lived and worked in: it is part of our dream world.” When you visit Skellig Michael, you will notice that Shaw’s description hasn’t aged a bit! Martin Joy, the Supervising Location Manager of Disney Lucasfilm said that “we needed to find somewhere completely from another time and place.” There is no doubt in my mind that they absolutely succeeded!
The Star Wars Skellig Michael similarities
In early medieval times, between the 6th and 8th century, Skellig Michael became one of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland. Until the 13th century, the monks of Saint Fionán lived here in their monastery. The hermit monks believed the Skellig islands to be the edge of the world, praying for those left on the mainland, seeking salvation through sublime solitude.
See the similarities to Luke Skywalker’s situation? It fits well into the context of the belief-system of medieval Irish sagas, in which often spiritual battles between the Dark side (aka the Devil) and the Force (aka Christianity) were fought out.
These sagas often involved other worlds, monsters and other strange creatures. Just think of the caretakers or the thala-sirens (the tame sea monsters that you can spot around AHCH-TO) or the cute porgs that are closely modelled on puffins that live on Skellig Michael.
You might not find it too surprising to hear that the monks who lived in these really harsh conditions and survived on a diet consisting of meat, seabird eggs, fish and dairy (very similar to the diet of Luke), only had an average lifespan of about 30 years.
Irish monks were also very prolific in producing manuscripts and collecting them in libraries, such as the Jedi Library on AHCH-TO.
You see, Skellig Michael in Ireland is the perfect place for a Jedi hide-out for Luke Skywalker.
How to do a Skellig Michael tour?
The only way how to get to Skellig Michael (excluding a helicopter ride or a suicidal swim) is by boat. There are several boat operators that have a license that offer landing tours to the island from late May to September. Outside of these times, no one is allowed to visit the island.
If you are lucky enough to travel to Ireland during the summer months and want to visit Skellig Michael, make sure to book early, as it has become hugely popular since the Star Wars Ireland hype. Only about 180 people are allowed on any given day to visit the site. If you do the math, this means that roughly about 14.000 people a year are able to visit the Skelligs. Of these only 11.000 actually manage to step a foot onto the island, as plans of visiting Skellig Michael can always be interrupted by late minute cancellations due to weather conditions.
As of 2020, there are 15 boat tour companies offering boat trips to Skellig Michael, 13 of which leave from Portmagee. The other two have boats in Ballinskelligs and Derrynane. Here is a link to the official Heritage Ireland Skellig Michael webpage for more up-to-date information.
Normally, the boatmen take bookings from late March, so make sure to plan ahead of time!
If you are not lucky enough to book a Skellig Michael landing tour (or have kids under 12 with you, as many tour operators don’t allow kids on board), you can also take an eco tour, which is a boat trip around the Skellig Islands. Alternatively, if you are prone to motion sickness during a boat ride, you can also enjoy the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre on Valentia Island, which gives you great insights into monastic life on the Skelligs, the seabirds, sea life of the area and a lot more.
If you do make it to the Skelligs, make sure to pay a visit to the Wailing Woman aka Rey’s Rock. This is the rock which Rey cuts in half with her lightsaber and thus upsets the caretakers.
An additional tip: Don’t despair if you haven’t managed to get a spot in a Skelligs landing tour: There are many beehive huts in the vicinity. These Clochán huts, as they are scientifically known, are scattered in a few locations in South-West Ireland, particularly along the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula. So if you travel from Valentia to Slea Head, make sure to stop at Fahan, where there are the remains of more than a hundred beehive huts. Usually the land owners of the Fahan beehive huts take a small entrance fee to enter their land.
What you need to know before you visit Skellig Michael / Skellig Michael Tips
- Skellig Michael is only open for visitors from May to September.
- Book way in advance. Like March at the latest…
- A round trip from Portmagee takes about 6 hours starting from about 9 am.
- The boat ride from the shore is about 45 min. If you are prone to motion sickness, don’t forget your dramamine.
- There are no toilets on the island. So don’t forget to empty your bladder before you go to Skellig Michael.
- Dogs are not allowed on the island.
Kids under 12 years are also not permitted on Skellig Michael.
- There are about 600 steps to the top of the island. So make sure that you are somewhat in shape and steady on your feet. Btw: picture bringing a 350-pound generator for filming up all those steps…some of the crew members had to do this.
- If you are lucky and get sunny weather, bring sunscreen and sunglasses, as there is little shelter on the island.
- Make sure to bring suitable gear with you, i.e. sturdy walking / hiking boots (remember 600 steps up and 600 steps down again…) and the right outdoor clothes. It can be cold and windy on the boat and on the island, so make sure to bring a windproof/waterproof layer.
- There are no shops on Skellig Michael, so bring your own food and water and also bring all your rubbish with you.
- Boat tours might be cancelled at short notice due to weather conditions.
Where to stay near the Skellig islands?
Portmagee accommodation (Where the Star Wars crew stayed)
It is very likely that you want to endeavour to go on a Skellig Michael boat trip from Portmagee. Why not take up lodgings in The Moorings?! Not only did the crew of “The Force Awakens” stay here for several days in 2014, they also held their Kerry Star Wars Wrap Party in the Bridge Bar downstairs.
The cast and crew came back to shoot some more scenes in 2015 and again had their wrap party in the Bridge Bar in The Moorings. On Youtube , you can watch Mark Hamill pour an (almost) perfect pint of Guinness in the bar.
Nowadays, The Moorings offer a Star Wars break package with 2 nights at The Moorings, a trip around Skellig Michael, a pint pouring challenge and a special T-Shirt. This might be interesting for die-hard fans.
Fun fact 1: The owner of The Moorings, Gerard Kennedy, was initially approached by location scouts from Disney looking for a place to stay while making “a puffin documentary.” I guess, this lie is somewhat permissible, as there are oodles of porgs on AHCH-TO.
Fun fact 2: When “The Last Jedi” was released in December 2017, the town was renamed Porgmagee for a short while.
Waterville accommodation (Where the Star Wars crew stayed)
Alternatively, you can also stay at the Butler Arms hotel, which is only about 20 km (12.5 miles) away from Portmagee. This has been a favourite spot for celebrities for decades. Walt Disney (the crew loved the fact that he had stayed here too), Charlie Chaplin (see our post about his stay here), Tiger Woods, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones and J. P. Morgan stayed here.
So did the crew of Star Wars Episode VII, who booked the entire hotel for the whole month of September 2014 and September 2015. Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, J. J. Abrams (in 2014) and Rian Johnson (in 2015) took up lodgings here.
Additional Star Wars fandom fact 1: Mark Hamill apparently stayed in one of the few rooms with a balcony that overlooks the water. I could not completely confirm this, though, and you might want to ask the hotel staff.
Additional Star Wars fandom fact 2: Daisy Ridley was so infatuated with the view of Ballinskelligs Bay that she asked the hotel after she had already left to send her a picture of the view from her bedroom.
What are the other Star Wars Filming Locations Ireland is known for?
Beyond the Star Wars island Ireland has a lot more to offer, as there are many more Star Wars filming locations in Ireland that are equally as beautiful and breathtaking. Besides the Skellig islands Ireland boasts Star Wars filming locations in Brow Head in County Cork, Sybil Head and Dunmore Head on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Loop Head in County Clare and Malin Head in County Donegal.
By the way, you might wonder why there are multiple other Star Wars locations in Ireland, although on screen we only see Luke’s one Ireland Star Wars island. The Skellig island Star Wars shooting was actually supposed to be the only Star Wars filming in Ireland.
However, there were several incidents reported that the Disney Lucasfilm Star Wars crew did not behave in accordance with ecological, environmental and archaeological measurements on this UNESCO World Heritage site (e.g. disregarding the breeding season of the local birds, attempting to importing foreign ferns and grasses as background props, a paint spill incident on the rock known as the Wailing Woman (the one that Rey cuts through with her lightsaber)).
These justifiably alarmed environmentalists and other Irish cultural heritage authorities so that their second shooting in September 2015 was strictly monitored and limited to three days. Here you can read more about these issues.
This just goes to show how vulnerable the eco- and archaeological system of Skellig Michael is and that one really needs to be aware of this when one visits this stunning site. So please leave no trace when you visit Skellig Michael to make sure that it is there for generations to come!
When the Star Wars crew decided to return to Ireland in May 2016 for a third time in order to shoot scenes for “The Last Jedi” (and as we now also know for “The Rise of Skywalker”), they had to look for alternatives.
Candice Campos, the Vice President of Physical Production at Lucasfilm, stated in March 2016: “The beauty of Skellig Michael in the final scene of The Force Awakens was stunning and we know the new locations along the Wild Atlantic Way will prove to be equally as beautiful in Star Wars: Episode VIII…Ireland has become an important part of Star Wars history.”
Here are the other Star Wars locations in Ireland that served to duplicate the setting of the initial shooting on Skellig Michael:
Brow Head Star Wars Locations
Next to the Mizen Head Peninsula and just about 3 km (2 miles) south of Crookhaven Village in County Cork, there is one of the most beautiful headlands you can imagine: Brow Head in West Cork. Besides being the most southerly point of the Irish mainland, it boasts not only an impressive signal tower, but also serenity and nature in its wildest forms.
There are no bus loads of people or top-notch visitor centers like the close-by Mizen Head Visitor Centre, just raw Irish nature as you might imagine it. Locals love to walk in this vicinity and of course found it at first quite bewildering to have suddenly big vans, security men, cast, camera crew (in total up to 200-300 people) and the likes arriving.
Looking for more information about visiting Ireland? Check out these posts:
- The Ultimate Ireland Guide to Harry Potter
- 6 Reasons why you should explore the Wild Atlantic Way
- Dublin 3-day itinerary – Discover Dublin’s highlights
The scene where Luke leapes from cliff to cliff to spear a fish was filmed on Brow Head. The crew started filming in May 2016 and shot on privately owned land on the West side of the headland. For avid Star Wars fans, this means unfortunately that you won’t be able to tread on the same ground as Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill did. However, this shouldn’t deter you from visiting, as the landscape is just stunning.
And there is a lot to do: You can for example check out an old Marconi signaling tower built in 1902 that provided telegraphic marine radio communication to ships that arrived from America.
Or you explore the breathtaking views of Mizen Head. There is a stunning bridge and a lighthouse there.
Maybe you manage even to spot the famous Fastnet Lighthouse which was known as “Ireland’s Teardrop”, as it was often the last piece of land that Irish emigrants saw home country before their final departure to the New World. There are also lots of mine shafts or caves. Most of them should not be explored without an expert guide though.
Why not take a stroll along the golden sands of Barley Cove Beach or check out Galley Cove.
Why don’t you follow in the footsteps of the Star Wars crew members, including Daisy Ridley, and tuck into a perfectly cooked chowder at O’Sullivan’s Bar in Crookhaven. The crew apparently also enjoyed their time at the Crookhaven Inn.
Brow Head Star Wars accommodation (Where the Star Wars crew stayed)
As there was such a big crew, B&Bs, hotels and other privately owned chalets in close proximity to the Barleycove Beach Hotel were completely taken over by the Star Wars team. Others stayed in Goleen and in Schull.
Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley spent some nights in Liss Ard Estate near Skibbereen. They even planted a tree to commemorate their stay in the “Irish Sky Garden” and Daisy tweeted a photo of herself in the lake at Liss Ard.
Daisy Ridley apparently really enjoyed her two weeks in Ireland, as she tweeted “Home after the most INCREDIBLE two weeks in Ireland. Happy and exhausted.” (May 26 2016).
Dingle Peninsula Star Wars Locations
Sybil Head Star Wars Locations
Filming on Sybil Head (Ceann Sibéal in Irish) near Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry took place on private property and, unfortunately, you may only visit the site with permission of the landowners. You can still go very close to the actual site, so it won’t be disappointing to check it out.
The scouting crew deemed the 206 m (676 ft) high cliff suitable in recreating the wild and rugged landscape of the Skelligs. And it is true, the landscape is quite spectacular and walks along the coastal hills in this vicinity extremely enjoyable. The three pointed cliff tops at Smerwick are known as the Three Sisters. If you decide on a walk, stay safe though and well back from the cliffs, as it can get really windy up there.
On Sybil Head, the Star Wars crew recreated an enormous replica of the beehive huts (Clochán huts) structure that you can see on Skellig Michael. The replica was built in the Pinewood Studios in London and then transported to Sybil Head. It took almost six weeks to complete the replica.
Part of the challenge was to get the beehive huts close to the cliffs. In order to facilitate access to the clifftop, a 1.5 km (about 1 mile) long metal track was laid.
The shots of the caretakers’ village were filmed on Sybil Head. After filming had been completed, the entire structure was dismantled. So, there are no traces of Star Wars filming activities visible anymore.
But, as mentioned above, there are loads of beehive huts on the Dingle Peninsula. Why not go to the Fahan beehive huts in the south of Dingle and check them out.
Added bonus: A few km / miles after Ventry there is a farmer that gives you two for one: you can check out beehive huts on his land and hold a baby lamb at the same time!
Dunmore Head Star Wars Locations
There were two important scenes were filmed at Dunmore Head, the westernmost part of the Dingle Peninsula, close to Coumeenoole Beach:
The Star Wars scene Dingle is probably now known for is the notorious thala-siren scene in which Luke milks one of the docile space sea cows on AHCH-TO. For the scene an almost 900-pound sea cow puppet was airlifted by a helicopter onto the rock (marked in the photo below). Before this took place, the Star Wars crew actually scanned the rocks in 3D, so that a frame for the thala-siren puppet could be built. The setup of the shot took about five weeks, the shooting itself only about three hours.
The second scene is the one where Rey spots Luke Skywalker’s crashed X-Wing fighter in the waters of AHCH-TO. The location of this is slightly closer to the shore (see photo).
Fun fact: The pupils of the all-Irish speaking school Scoil an Fheirtéaraigh in Ballyferriter had a surprise visitor at the end of May 2016 when Chewbacca took a break from filming and visited their classroom.
Dingle Star Wars Locations
After about two weeks of filming, the Dingle Star Wars Wrap Party took place in late May 2016 in Foxy John’s Pub on Main Street in Dingle Town. The director Rian Johnson chose this place as the final party venue himself. Daisy Ridley, who was a bartender in London before being discovered, was pulling pints during this event. A few nights earlier Daisy was reportedly spotted in O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub in The Mall.
By the way, Adam Driver was also in Dingle for a few days and worked out (sometimes as early as 5 am!) in West Kerry Fitness on Baile Na Buaille.
Although he is not in scenes shot in Ireland, Rian Johnson says: “For those force connections, I needed [Adam and Daisy] to talk. … Every single time we shot one of their sides, the other person was off camera. Even to the point where Adam flew to Ireland just to be off camera for Daisy’s stuff, which was essential because they’re such intimate conversations.”
Additional points of interest might be the coffee place Bean in Dingle, Dick Mack’s Pub and the restaurant The Charter House where many of the crew members frequently socialised and dined.
Dingle Star Wars Accommodation (Where the Star Wars crew stayed)
Apparently, some of the crew members stayed at the Dingle Peninsula Hotel and signed a wall in it. It has been painted over at this stage though.
Another great hotel, although there is no direct Star Wars link to it, is the Dingle Skellig Hotel. It is only minutes from arguably one of the coolest towns in Ireland, Dingle Town. From here you can do boat tours to Fungi, Ireland’s most famous dolphin. You can also just soak up the special atmosphere of this quaint and very likeable Irish town.
Loop Head Star Wars Locations
Remember the teaser trailer for “The Last Jedi” where Rey looks out onto the sea while the camera behind her slowly moves upwards? This shot captures the amphitheatre in Loop Head in County Clare. Filming took three days in May 2016 (17th-19th) and not a lot was known about it to the public, as the area surrounding the Loop Head Lighthouse was completely sealed off.
Unfortunately, I was not able to find out whether the Dagobah mirror scene was also filmed at Loop Head and whether Daisy Ridley took part in the filming herself. It was reported that her stunt double was seen in the vicinity. If anybody has more info about this, I would be grateful for an update 🙂
The Loop Head Peninsula is absolutely worth visiting and has been awarded a few prestigious tourism awards. In 2010 it was awarded a European Destinations of Excellence Award and in 2015 the Loop Head Heritage Trail (which is about 60 km / 37 miles long) won the Global Sustainable Tourism Award.
If you are keen to find the exact spot of the location, our photo below will help you (as it is nowhere else recorded). You basically will have to go to the absolutely stunning Loop Head Lighthouse and walk from there to the tip of Loop Head where to huge E-I-R-E sign is written on the ground (Eire means Ireland in Irish). You will find a few of these marks along the coast. They were used during World War II to alert pilots that they were entering neutral airspace.
Make sure to marvel at the huge sea stack to your right known as Diarmuid and Grainne’s Rock (or “Lover’s Leap”) and continue walking along the cliffs of Loop Head for less than 1 km (0.6 miles). You will find the amphitheatre on your right. Please stay safe at all times, particularly keep your distance to the edge when it is windy or the weather conditions are otherwise adverse.
If you have a bit more time on your hands, it is really worth exploring a bit more of the Loop Head Heritage Trail, especially the Kilkee Cliff Walk. You can see naturally formed pollock holes (huge rock pools that offer a sheltered swimming possibility during low tide. Go for it if you love to enjoy a cold, but memorable experience!), the Pink Caves, Intrinsic Bay and many other great highlights.
By the way: Make sure to check out the Loop Head Lighthouse. From March to November it is possible to take part in a guided tour of this amazing landmark. You will not only learn lots about the Loop Head Lighthouse history since 1670, but you will also be able to visit the present tower (built in 1854) and step out onto the lighthouse balcone from where you have a fantastic view (if the weather allows it) of the Shannon Estuary, the wild Atlantic waves, the Blasket Islands and even the Twelve Pins in Connemara. On the other headline south of Loop Head and the Shannon is Kerry Head.
You can also rent the Loop Head Lightkeeper’s House (courtesy of the Irish Landmark Trust) and thus spend a few unforgettable nights at this incredible location.
After a full day of wind and waves you can stop by Keating’s of Kilbaha aka “the nearest bar to New York ”. This is where the Star Wars cast and crew liked to relax after a day’s work.
Fun fact: As the Star Wars Ireland location scouts did not want anybody to know that they were going to shoot scenes for the new Star Wars movie at Loop Head, they told the local tourist board that they were filming scenes for a movie called “Star Bears”.
Malin Head Star Wars Locations
Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegalis not only the most northerly point of Ireland and one of the signature discovery points of the Wild Atlantic Way (it the beginning and end point of it), it is also the real life location where Rey and Chewbacca land the Millennium Falcon on a rocky outcrop on AHCH-TO.
The Millennium Falcon Location at Ineuran Bay
Malin Head was actually the first filming location after the Star Wars cast and crew had landed in Belfast Airport in Northern Ireland in May 2016. Before the cast arrived, the Millennium Falcon, which was built in England, had been assembled by Eddie Gallen, an Irish specialist in extreme scaffolding.
You will find the exact location of the site if you travel to Ineuran Bay. You can park (if you are here by car) at the viewpoint parking lot and then go to the small beach in front of you and walk along the water’s edge. The location of the Millennium Falcon is the rocky outcrop further to the right.
Unfortunately, once again, the exact location is on private land and you may not access it. However, if you have some time on your hand, why not take a Malin Head Star Wars tour with Bren Whelan, an Ireland Star Wars expert who was also responsible for the personal safety of Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill during filming.
Definitely make sure to check out Malin Head itself. Its rocky and rugged coastline, the Hell’s Hole Cavern and also the view from the signal station on Tower Hill, also known as Banba’s Crown, is absolutely magnificent. The tower itself dates from 1805 when the Irish (or rather the British Crown) feared a Napoleonic invasion. You can also spot another E-I-R-E sign to mark Ireland’s neutrality during World War II from here.
Malin Head is also known for its absolutely treacherous waters. Over the centuries, more than 400 recorded shipwrecks amassed around the coast line of Malin Head.
Also don’t miss one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Ireland, the Five Fingers Strand. The beach is slightly south of Malin Head. Not only will you fall in love with the picturesque scene of fine sand and the wild Atlantic waves, you will also see some of the oldest and largest sand dunes in the world.
By the way, if you are at Malin Head in the winter months and happen to encounter a clear day, you might even be lucky to see the Northern Lights at night from here. As Malin Head is the most northern point in Ireland, your chances to see the Aurora Borealis in Ireland is highest here. Read more about it in our Northern Lights post here.
Other Malin Head Star Wars Filming Locations
Northwest of Malin Head you will find Esky Bay, which is another Star Wars Malin Head Filming Location. In one sequence filmed here, Rey runs along the beach.
Thatched Cottage in Ballyhillin:
En route to or from Malin Head you will inevitably pass a lovely looking thatched cottage. Mark Hamill fell in love with this house, drank a cup of tea with the owner (who didn’t recognise him at that time), signed the guest book and sat in the armchair which is now known as Skywalker’s Armchair.
Caffe Banba located at Banba’s Crown:
This little coffee shop provided the cast and crew with such delicious coffee and donuts that they even made it into the closing credits of “The Last Jedi” as part of the crew. The coffee unit calls itselfs now The Malin Falcon. I’d recommend grabbing some caffeine and slice of something sweet. Maybe you even hear a tale or two about the Star Wars filming.
Farren’s Bar in Ballygorman:
Mark Hamill and other members of the crew visited this almost 200-year old bar, also known as the most northerly bar in Ireland, for a pint. He also signed a Stormtrooper boot, which is now proudly presented in the bar (alongside other Star Wars memorabilia). The owner Hugh Farrens was so enthralled by the Star Wars visitors that he painted a huge Master Yoda mural on the wall of the pub.
McGrory’s Hotel in Culdaff:
The Donegal Star Wars Wrap Party took place in the Front Bar of McGrory’s Hotel. Here Daisy Ridley and Rian Johnson were among the attendees. Ridley and Johnson even joined in a music session and danced to Irish music. The local band “Tasty” was responsible for the music and even played the Star Wars theme as the last encore. During the shoot, the film crew also dined here and apparently particularly enjoyed McGrory’s Inishowen chowder, fish and chips and steak. By the way, a piece of the Millennium Falcon can be seen in the Front Bar.
Malin Head Star Wars Accommodation (Where the Star Wars crew stayed)
Mark Hamill stayed at the Redcastle Hotel & Spa. Here also other crew members took up lodging. Unfortunately I could not find out whether Daisy Ridley stayed here too.
McGrory’s Hotel was also completely booked up for two months of Spring 2016. Funnily enough, the hotel did not know that it was the Star Wars crew that was going to stay at the hotel. They had only received the info that a film project called “Space Bears” was going to be shot in Donegal. Their guests’ only request was that their gastropub might stay open slightly later than normally each evening.
Other Ireland Star Wars points of interest and connections
R2D2 road: In April 2019, the R242 coastal road near Malin Head was renamed into R2D2 in tribute of the Star Wars droid.
May the 4th Be With You Festival: Since 2018, there is an annual “May the 4th Be With You Festival” all over Ireland. This Fáilte Ireland initiative takes place on several Star Wars locations along the Wild Atlantic Way and celebrates the Star Wars Ireland connection.
The programme is so eclectic that there will be something for everybody’s taste (as long as you are somewhat a Star Wars fan): There are exclusive film screenings at actual Star Wars filming locations, stargazing events, Star Wars location tours and more. So, if you happen to be in Ireland in early May, make sure to check out this festival.
Star Wars Dublin connection
At Trinity College Dublin you can visit the Jedi Archives from Star Wars Episode II “Attack of the Clones” (2002) in real life: Just visit Trinity College’s Long Room (you will be able to see it when you buy a ticket to Ireland’s famous Book of Kells. Want to know how? Read our article about it here.
George Lucas has constantly denied using the library as a blueprint (also because they feared legal actions, which Trinity actually considered in 2002), yet the similarities are just too striking.
Irish actors in Star Wars
There are lots of Irish actors in Star Wars. The most prominent of the last trilogy is obviously Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, the leader of the First Order. In Star Wars Episode I “The Phantom Menace” (1999), there are also Northern Ireland actors Liam Neeson as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Bronagh Gallagher as Captain Maoi Madoko.
Additionally, did you know that Daisy Ridley has also an Irish connection in her family? While she was filming in Ireland, they went to the Burren close to Ennis in order find her great-grandparents’ house.
Also, as the Irish Family History Centre found out, Mark Hamill also has Irish roots. His great-grandmother Elizabeth Keating was born in Kilkenny in 1873. Read more about it here.
Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher also have Irish roots. Ford’s grandfather was John Fitzgerald Ford from Douglas/Ballygarvan in County Cork. Fisher’s great-great-grandfather Burt McReynolds came from County Donegal.
Finals words: I wrote this article to the best of my knowledge and research ability. If you have more information about Star Wars in Ireland or want me to correct a mistake, please let me know! I really appreciate it. “Go mbeidh an fórsa leat!” (“May the force be with you!” in Irish).
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