STAR Wars location Brow Head and the local village of Crookhaven could benefit hugely from a tourism spin-off if the area is developed in time for the movie’s release, locals have suggested.
Local politicians and business people in the area have said they will fully support any plans to have the area developed before the release of Episode 8 – which stars Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley – in 2017.
The final elements of the set disappeared last Saturday morning, as the last trucks left the area after weeks of preparation, filming and dismantling.
With the temporary trackway removed, there is now a very clear path to the head, and the adjacent road, which was once just a partially overgrown dirt track, has been cleared and roughly surfaced.
As a result, the film’s production crew left behind foundations for an excellent tourist attraction at the head, if interested parties move quickly to capitalise on the work already done, it was suggested this week.
Deputy Michael Collins (Ind) said Brow Head holds a very special place in his heart since his mother’s family (Downeys) originally came from the land there.
‘I have spoken to the landowners there – even long before Star Wars came – with a view to developing the area as a tourist attraction. And I believe they are all fully supportive of it. There are only about three families involved and I think they would all give their backing to it. I have felt, for a very long time, that it could be as popular as the Mizen, if developed properly,’ he said.
Deputy Jim Daly agreed that the area has ‘enormous potential for a tourism spin-off. Now is the time to plan and take advantage when the movie hits the screens,’ Deputy Daly said this week.
He added that the Film Office in Cork, set up during his time as County Mayor in 2010, should be tasked with promoting the location and highlighting the potential for other movie makers.
Local publican Dermot O’Sullivan from Crookhaven said he also saw huge potential in the area but cautioned that the access road would need significant investment in order to make it safe for two vehicles to pass safely, and for foreign drivers. ‘It is quite dangerous in spots,’ he said, ‘and I wouldn’t want to see anyone driving up there until that road is made safe.’
But he added that he was hugely impressed with the condition of the site after the crew left last weekend. ‘I walked right out to the Head with my daughter and there wasn’t so much as a matchstick left behind. I even heard they had men dangling on ropes gluing back in a few rocks that had become loosened during filming,’ he said. ‘They did a magnificent job of clearing the site when they left.’
Danny O’Keeffe, who owns the house closest to the set, agreed that the area should be tapped for its potential, without delay. ‘The road is there, the pathway is there, and it is an absolutely stunning location,’ he said, referring to the views of Barleycove on one side, to the Fastnet on the other, and down to the peninsula which is home to the harbour village of Crookhaven.
Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said she was also backing the calls to have the area made into a tourism destination, but sounded a word of caution, saying the roads and broadband in the area should be tackled first.
Deputy Collins said a statue of engineer Marconi is planned for the base of the head to mark the transmission of signals across the Atlantic, from Newfoundland to Brow Head, in the early 1900s.
‘There is unbelievable potential here,’ he said. ‘Someone has to drive this and it needs to come from the local community. We need to get Fáilte Ireland, Cork County Council and the landowners on board.’