IF Brow Head was to become a tourist attraction, then it could easily rival the unique beauty – and attraction – of Kerry’s Skelligs.
Standing on top of Ireland’s most southerly headland (neighbouring Mizen is the most south-westerly), it is easy to see why it was chosen by Lucas Films.
With the stunning tsumani-formed beach of Barleycove alongside the busy Mizen Peninsula on one side of the head, and the gorgeous Crookhaven harbour and village on the other, several miles of sparkling blue seas separate both.
The only spot on the long blue horizon is the majestic Fastnet Rock which, apart from the lighthouse tower, would not look out of place in any science fantasy film.
The Star Wars scenes were filmed at the furthest point on the head, which is also its narrowest point, where the Atlantic splashes against the treacherous jagged rocks below, reminiscent of the Skelligs themselves.
Because of this, a roadway was cleared to the fields on the head and a trackway was built across those fields, leading right up to the end of the headland.
Although the trackway has now been lifted, a wide, flat, pathway lies beneath, offering a perfect opportunity for the area to be developed further, where a secure walk could bring visitors out to a potential viewing point at the head.
A temporary car park was constructed for the crew and their equipment, at the start of the walkway. This could be easily surfaced to provide parking for several cars, if the landowners agreed.
The road, once a dirt track, has been resurfaced by Lucas Films, and the hedging cleared back, to allow the large trucks easy access. If maintained, this would provide very easy access to the car park.
While much of the land on the head is privately-owned, local TD Michael Collins firmly believes local landowners would support a progressive tourism plan for the area, and he acknowledged to the Star that there is now an ideal opportunity to create something that could bring a massive tourism and jobs boost to the area.
The value of being chosen as a Star Wars location should not be underestimated – or overlooked. There is an entire Wikipedia page – complete with a world map – dedicated to locations of previous films, and there are many website and magazine articles devoted to the same subject. The franchise has been filmed in remote locations in North Africa, South America, Australia and Asia, so being one of the ‘chosen’ few brings with it great filmic kudos.
Die-hard Star Wars fans organise holidays and group trips following in their characters’ footsteps, and with social media a major part of any holiday today, photos of such magnificent locations are likely to go global, creating a snowball effect for tourism.
But what is also important is that the momentum created by the film’s release next year is not a missed opportunity for tourism interests in West Cork.
Locals showed great initiative within days of the announcement of shooting, with t-shirts, posters and mugs produced in large numbers as mementoes.
Crew members even ordered several of the ‘Star Wars Brow Head’ t-shirts before they left the area. If the small businesses can see a way of capitalising on the visit, surely it is only a matter of time before larger stakeholders follow suit.