Earlier today, the Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphries, granted permission for Lucasfilm to film parts of Star Wars: Episode VIII on Skellig Michael, an island off the coast County Kerry, despite strong concerns raised by environmental protection groups. This is not the first time that Ireland has become part of a galaxy far, far away and filming for the Force Awakens took place on the same island in July and August of last year.
The filming will be subject to strict ecological and environmental conditions to ensure that the local wild-life is not disturbed as the area is quite fragile. The island is home to an ancient monastery which, along with the island itself, became an UNESCO world heritage site in 1996. Some have speculated that the island will be the home of Luke Skywalker in the upcoming sequel trilogy, a theory given some credence by the fact that both Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley were reported to have been part of the cast taken to the island. The fact that Lucasfilm has opted to return to the site indicates that whatever role the site plays in the film is likely to be quite important.
In another bit of related news which is sure to delight fans in Ireland and the United Kingdom, it was announced that Star Wars: the Force Awakens will launch in that market a day earlier than expected. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits Irish cinemas on December 17th and will see world-wide release on December 18th.