Feel the Force right in the birthplace of the Jedi Order
So you’ve seen The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi a few times, you know the names of all the different planets and moons, and you love annoying your friends by speaking like Yoda. But have you ever visited one of the many real-world filming locations of the Star Wars series?
How about geeking out by popping by Skellig Michael in Ireland? The lone island that served as Luke Skywalker’s Jedi island hideout, Ahch-To, and was also home to the elusive first Jedi Temple.
We caught a glimpse of the elusive island at the mysterious cliff-hanger of The Force Awakens, and it was heavily featured as the peaceful backdrop where Rey trains to become a Jedi in The Last Jedi. It’s hard to believe it, but the rugged cliffs and rocky steps are not actually from a galaxy far, far away, or even enhanced by a green screen.
The scenes of Ahch-To were filmed at this very island about 12km off the southwest coast of Ireland, and 218 metres above sea level.
With its own spiritual history and legacy, Skellig Michael could really help you learn to become one with the Force. Christian monks settled on the island in the 6th and 7th century, building the stone architecture almost completely without mortar and so well-preserved that UNESCO declared the island a World Heritage Site in 1996.
Up the 600 hand-carved stone steps where Rey and Luke had their dramatic first interaction, you’ll find the magnificent round stone huts that Luke lived in, also known as beehive huts. Instead of the Jedi master, Medieval monks used to call them home.
The adventurous can climb to the very top of the stairs on the cliff, where the view of the vast blue sea will amaze you. It may be a steep climb, but you’ll be enjoying the company of Skellig Michael’s various native birds. If you visit between April and early August, you’ll be surrounded by a colony of puffins, which inspired the adorable porgs that won over our hearts in The Last Jedi. Whether or not you’re #TeamPorg, you’ll be captivated by these beautiful seabirds with their colourful bills.
Fortunately (or unfortunately?), you don’t actually require a holographic map and the Millennium Falcon to get to Skellig Michael. You can book a 45-minute boat or sea cruise tour online, and choose between tours that land on the island (which generally run from May to October) or one that just circles it without landing. The tours depend on weather conditions, which fluctuate, so let’s hope the force will be with you.
Is it, as Rey says, an island of life, death and decay that feeds new life, warmth, cold, peace, and violence? You’ll have to visit Skellig Michael to find out, but one thing’s for sure: Its natural beauty and rich heritage will infuse you with an otherworldly energy.