Living in Ireland it has been awesome seeing the reports of our little island being a filming location for the sequel trilogy. When it was first reported that Star Wars would be filming in Ireland my Facebook was a buzz, fans and friends from all over the country saying how we should go check it out and this past weekend members of the 501st Ireland Garrison and Rebel Legion Ireland did exactly that!
Now our expectations were realistic, we knew that principal photography in Ireland was finished and stars, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver had already left the country. But Ireland was now a Star Wars location, up there with Norway, Tunisia, Italy and the rest and we waited to be there when it was still 'fresh'.
So Saturday morning at the crack of dawn we started the 5 hour drive to Dingle, Co Kerry. Growing up in Ireland I've always appreciated the beauty of our landscape but now it has an added factor... the closer you get to Co Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula the more you start to feel like you could be in Star Wars!
We arrived around lunch time, checked into our guest house for night and got directions out to the set and Cean Sibeal from our host. (By the way I believe the pronunciation is Cown She-ball, I don't speak Gaelic myself but my ears were peeled for how the locals said it!) The decision was then made to throw caution, humility, self respect and anything else to the wind and get kitted up in our costumes, drive out to Cean Sibeal and simply see how far we could get. As we all jumped into the car we had to pause and acknowledge just how nerdy we were being, dressed in Jedi robes approaching an active Star Wars set!
We hadn't even seen anything yet, but knowing we were within a few miles of the location we were like kids on Christmas. We had approximate directions but didn't know exactly where we'd find it or what we'd see and as the car turned a corner and we got our first view of the Episode VIII set at the top of the hill the atmosphere was electric.
First chance we got we piled out of the car, dressed our stormtrooper (stormtroopers cant sit down in cars) and got pics with the set in the background. It may not look like much but to us fans this was enough, we were looking at an actual set from a Star Wars movie. I'd best describe it as that same feeling Ben mentioned on the latest SWU Podcast Bonus Show when you're at Celebration and even without queuing to get autographs, its enough to know you're in the same room as Star Wars celebrities.
Satisfied that we'd done it, we'd made the long trek and seized the opportunity to see the set while it was here in Ireland it was time to see what else we could manage. Using an SLR as a telescope (if you go set hunting bring binoculars!) we planned out our route to try and approach the set and as we got closer and closer we stopped the car several more times for more photos.
Ultimately we hit a roadblock, literally. I know this is just a van parked in a tiny Irish village but this is the closest point we got and to us as fans this was an awesome moment. This was less than a mile from the set, we pulled up beside the van and the man in the high vis jacket just stood and shook his head at us while the lady simply looked annoyed. Cant blame them at all, after all we were 4 people in Star Wars costumes trying to get on to their set, we couldn't have been more cliche if we'd tried!
Not at all upset about it, we had our pictures with the set behind us and we were happy, we started to head back to Dingle, resigned to that the fact that this was as far as we were going to get. Then the mist over the sea cleared and we realized we could see Skellig Michael across the water! Stop the car again and jump out for more pics!
On this part of the peninsula there were more tourists and as we stopped in a fairly busy car park we were swarmed by people wanting pictures with Star Wars characters and we were honest when repeatedly asked 'Are you part of the movie?' To which we answered 'We wish!' Travelling back to Dingle for the evening we got one more very cool bonus, some actual Clocháns (those beehive looking buildings that we fans now associate with Ahch-To). This time when we stopped the car I'm pretty sure we left half the rubber from the tires on the road!
Eventually we made our way back to Dingle for the evening and still in costume we took a tour around the town. People in Ireland love to tell stories and that night everyone wanted to tell stories about Star Wars. Stories about Mark Hamill walking his dog, Daisy Ridley dancing the night away in the local bars and Adam Driver with his four body guards hitting the gym.
We even got chatting with some of the crew, we walked into one bar full of locals chanting 'NDA NDA NDA' like a football (sorry, soccer) chant and we were introduced to a guy involved with transport and logistics who had stories about episode 7 out in Abu Dhabi and some very odd sounding tidbits about Episode VIII...
POTENTIAL (MINOR) SPOILER WARNING (if its even true!)
We learned a couple of things from the locals and from the local crew, take with a pinch of salt but we believe what they told us was true as far as they know;
- During the last week of filming explosions could be heard from the set that echoed across the peninsula implying a big battle scene
- No stormtroopers were seen on set - the local crew (after a few beers) told us our stormtrooper was the first they'd seed
- This is where it gets weird... we were told that there was a top secret animatronic 'Sea Cow'...
END Of SPOILERS
Our experience may have been little more than a brush with Star Wars but to us it was worth the trip and I for one have certainly got the bug for visiting Star Wars locations. Next month we head to Donegal (dunny-gawl) to visit the Falcon landing area filmed in Malin Head and I'm already thinking of ways I can do visits to other European locations. Did we succeed in finding the first Jedi Temple? We feel like we did and I hope this report shares even a taste of the atmosphere and feeling when visiting a Star Wars location. If Star Wars films or has filmed near you, go there...
501st and Rebel Legion Ireland
(If you liked this please head over and like our new Jedi Temple Facebook Page - Ahch-To Jedi Temple, our local Jedi detachment as part of the Rebel Legion where we post regular pics of Jedi Knights in Irish locations)Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.
Photo Credits: Without a Stitch
Photo Credits: Without a Stitch