Filming for Star Wars Episode VII has moved to Ireland – more specifically, the remote island of Skellig Michael in County Kerry. The site, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is on lockdown and security has been heightened as cast and crew have been arriving over the last few days. According to The Irish Times, Mark Hamill was scheduled to film scenes there today.
Skellig Michael is one of two islands (the other being Small Skellig) located in the Atlantic Ocean off the south-west coast of Ireland. Skellig Michael was once a monastic outpost in the early days of Christianity, and it is remarkably well-preserved – making it valuable to archaeologists.
Today, the unpopulated and rocky island is home to several species of birds, including puffins and – with this being their breeding season – some environmental groups have expressed concern that filming may be disruptive. However, The Irish Film Board has stated that the filming schedule “has been designed specifically to avoid disturbance of breeding birds on the island.”
Local boatmen from neighboring Portmagee have been employed to ferry the film crew back and forth, and they have been recouped for the estimated loss of tourism dollars they will experience while the island is shut down.
Filming began on Monday and is expected to run through Wednesday.