Tourism Ireland has put out a new video that’s part Star Wars: The Force Awakens featurette, part “Hey, remember that awesome [spoiler] island? You should come see it for yourself!”
Spoilers for The Force Awakens.
The video includes director J.J. Abrams talking about how his desire for practical effects extended to finding an authentic setting for what we now know to be Luke Skywalker’s hiding place, the planet of Ahch-to. That setting? Ireland’s Skellig Michael, a gorgeous island off the coast of County Kerry. As supervising location manager Martin Joy describes it, “We needed to find somewhere completely from another time and place.”
There was some pushback against using Skellig Michael as a filming location because of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; there were fears about damaging the ecology. However, Ireland’s Office of Public Works and the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht have emphasized that filming caused no significant damage.
Now, seeing as Skellig Michael will play at least a small part in Episode VIII, Tourism Ireland is inviting visitors the world over to experience this otherworldly beauty. Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe said that “[b]y the end of November 2015, we had surpassed our best ever year on record for the number of overseas visitors. We are determined to build on that.” They shouldn’t have a problem at all, but they might want to check in with New Zealand’s tourism board for any tips or tricks they learned from the Lord of the Rings movies (and then again with The Hobbit trilogy).