Irish Star Wars fans were all atwitter this week — some not in a good way — when filming took place on Skellig Michael, a barren island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Kerry. Secrecy surrounds the new movie: nobody knows where in a galaxy far, far way the island is supposed to be, or which characters hang out there (although Luke Skywalker was seen nearby). The choice of the rugged island, however, is not without controversy. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because of a monastery that was built there in the Dark Ages by ascetic monks (sort of the Jedi of their time).
The island is also a valuable bird sanctuary. Birdwatch Ireland is concerned about the impact of filming at this time, as currently it is breeding season. So why is there a film crew tramping all over the place? UNESCO is asking why one of its treasured sites is being used this way, even if only for a few days. The Irish Film Board — which gave permission for JJ Abrams and his crew to film there — says that filming “has been designed specifically to avoid disturbance of breeding birds on the island.” Upset the puffins you will not, as Yoda might say.
–contributor Niall McArdle blogs at Raging Fluff