As Tourists Flock, Ireland Savors the “Star Wars” Effect

A long time ago in a Gaelic sea far, far away . . .

As Tourists Flock, Ireland Savors the “Star Wars” Effect

The island of Skellig Michael, off the Irish coast, figures prominently in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The December 15 release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi compelled several tour operators to launch Star Wars–themed tours that visit filming locations in Ireland, including Donegal, Cork, and the island Skellig Michael, off the coast of County Kerry.

This isn’t the first time Ireland has basked in a cinematic afterglow. Last June, Fáilte Ireland, the tourism board, credited Game of Thrones with luring a large portion of the record-breaking 1 million U.S. visitors to Ireland in 2016. (Sites in Northern Ireland were used to represent the Haunted Forest, the Dothraki Sea, Winterfell, and the Kingsroad in the HBO series.)

For fans who can’t stomach the new generation of Star Wars sequels (a list that apparently includes actor Mark Hamill), many of the shooting locations from the original three films remain more or less accessible.

✱ George Lucas picked the Saharan landscape outside of Tozeur, Tunisia, to represent Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine in the first film (The area also served as a backdrop for parts of Raiders of the Lost Ark, The English Patient, and Monty Python’s Life of Brian). It is worth noting that Tunisia is considered by the U.S. Department of State to be an area where travelers should “exercise increased caution.”

✱ The icy village of Finse, Norway, and the sprawling Hardangerjøkulen glacier served as the snowbound planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

✱ California’s Redwoods National Park served as the woodsy moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, although specific locations are hotly debated among Star Wars nerds; the general consensus is that the forest seen in the speeder scenes has since been logged.

>>Next: On May 4, Ireland Will Be the Center of the “Star Wars” Universe

In these quiet days leading up to her Powerball win, Ann works as a freelance travel editor and writer. A fan of literature, museums, history, high-minded cinema, and bad television, Ann lives in New York with her husband and two teenaged children. She likes road trips, local bars, getting lost, and laughing, so Ireland ranks high on her list of favorite places.
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