Avid fans have a chance to see Star War's Luke Skywalker's remote island home called Skellig Michael.

The quieter moments of the action-packed Star Wars blockbuster, The Last Jedi, take place on Luke Skywalker’s remote island hideaway - a place not exclusively from the Star Wars universe.

In fact, most of the scenes were filmed on a real life remote island called Skellig Michael - which I was lucky enough to visit.

The island has incredible views.

Skellig Michael, and its twin Little Skellig, is found off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry in Ireland.

I was invited by Tourism Ireland around the time The Force Awakens was released. Skellig Michael had just a small role in that instalment but in the Last Jedi it gets a starring role, which is well deserved. It is indeed a magical place.

To get to the island, tourists can board a boat out at the charming harbour town of Portmagee a couple of times a day, weather permitting. Seats are very limited so booking is essential.

It requires a delicate balancing act to maximise the Star Wars tourism boost while limiting the ecological effect on the island, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. There are many rules and safety guidelines, and you are reminded of these often.

On a sunny and windless spring day, we had a perfect 40-minute boat ride out, including a spin around Little Skellig, which looks like a luxury holiday resort for thousands of gannets.

Most of the scenes were filmed on a real life remote island called Skellig Michael.


Once on Skellig Michael, the climb begins. There are more than 600 precarious steps to the unusual rock dwellings that Skywalker and later Rey reside in.

Some time between the 6th and 8th centuries ascetic monks came to live on the island. Why exactly is difficult to determine but it is said they made a life there as a way of getting closer to God. Their homes and stone crosses bear testament to their spiritual and physical achievements.

Later, families lived there to keep the lighthouses going, until tragedy struck and the island was no longer a home to anyone.

Now the World Heritage Site is occupied occasionally by scientists and full-time by puffins, whose cuteness could rival the  Porgs of The Last Jedi .

You can visit the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre on Valentia Island for more information about the rich history of the islands and the region and, if you have the finances, board a helicopter for a breathtaking aerial view of the Skelligs.

To get to the island, tourists can board a boat out at the charming harbour town of Portmagee.

Portmagee also has its own Star Wars’ tales to tell – the cast and crew stayed there. Everyone in the tiny, picturesque town was still talking about the night Mark Hamill pulled a pint of Guinness behind the bar at The Moorings, a true blue - or should  that be green - Irish pub and hotel

The Moorings’ owner, Gerry Kennedy, said he had never heard of Star Wars before the movie folk descended on the town and his hotel.

Now it’s all anyone wants to talk about.

* Riana Howa was a guest of Tourism Ireland SA.

If You Go...

South Africans don’t need a visa to travel to the Republic of Ireland.

I flew with KLM to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and then to Dublin with Aer Lingus.

Portmagee is a 4-hour and 40-minute drive from Dublin.