SOME of the main stars of the latest Star Wars movie – Star Wars: Episode VIII – landed in West Cork this week.
Brow Head was the latest location for the crew busy at work in Ireland this week, having left Malin Head in Donegal at the weekend, arriving at Cork Airport on Monday afternoon.
Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, was joined by Daisy Ridley, on the chartered jet with 270 stars and crew on board.
The movie also stars Adam Driver, Irish actor Domhnaill Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christine.
Brow Head may have been chosen for several reasons. Apart from the stunning views in this area which include Mizen Head and the Fastnet Rock, it is also a relatively easy area to secure – with one main road to the head, and plenty of holiday homes in the area to provide accommodation for a large crowd such as the Star Wars entourage.
Nearby gorgeous Crookhaven – a very popular down-time destination for other West Corkies and city folk – has been a well-kept secret. But it seems that now the village’s perfect location is in danger of being ‘outed’ globally and will no longer be just the preserve of savvy locals.
From Malin Head to Mizen Head – and then off to Kerry – the crew managed to have found the longest period of sustained good weather so far this year. However, that wasn’t all good news this week, as their plans for a scene showing the Millennium Falcon hit by a shower of rain had to be ‘faked’ in Malin Head last weekend, when soaring temperatures screwed up the director’s plans.
The temperatures cooled somewhat in Brow Head this week, though, with cloud cover and fog on the Mizen peninsula early on Tuesday morning which later gave way to more blue skies.
So, where exactly were they filming?
Well, as revealed EXCLUSIVELY in The Southern Star earlier this year, the crew began working several weeks ago to get set up on Brow Head, a beautiful headland with an imposing signal tower, just south of Crookhaven village – one headland short of the Mizen visitor centre.
Brow Head is a well-known walking area for locals, who have had a mixed reaction to the arrival of the trucks, cameras, aluminium tracks, security men and on-site catering facilities.
Their morning walks on this gorgeous headland may have been curbed for the last few weeks, but there is no doubt that the decision to film one of the world’s most famous franchises in this area also meant that it will be a major boost to tourism. Set along the Wild Atlantic Way, Brow Head is just a short drive from Crookhaven Village, an area with a rich maritime heritage and history.
A regular summer holiday spot for city dwellers, ‘Crook’ was also once a major trading spot along the coast, even boasting a Lloyd’s shipping office. The Marconi radio company even used Brow Head to transmit messages from the Fastnet to the next recipient.
Today it is a ‘haven’ for the sailing fraternity with its pretty restaurants, cafés and pubs along the seafront.
Some of the Star Wars crew availed of the famous seafood and hospitality in the ‘inns’ on the pier, with few locals paying any attention to the newcomers. All nearby holiday homes were booked up for weeks, with demand stretching as far as Goleen and Schull, and even as far as Skibbereen, Bantry and Clonakilty, for some of the crew.
Nearby Mizen Head is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the south coast, with its spectacular bridge and lighthouse looking across at the ‘teardrop of Ireland’ – the Fastnet Lighthouse. The Fastnet, as well as being an iconic landmark for sailors and racing enthusiasts, was often the last land view of Ireland many emigrants got as they set off for distant shores, in decades gone by.
Nearby Barleycove is world-renowned as one of our finest beaches, with stunning sand dunes believed to have been deposited there after a tsunami in Lisbon in 1755.
Closer to Goleen, there are myriad little coves and secluded beaches, beloved of kayakers, divers and coasteering classes. Visitors to the area can enjoy boat-trips, deep-sea fishing and dolphin, shark, seal and whale-spotting, and also a number of great tourist hotspots and eateries – plenty of activities for Hollywood types to enjoy during their ‘down time’!