Bal­ly­fer­riter pre­pares for flood of Star Wars fans

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

WITH West Kerry fea­tur­ing strongly in the lat­est episode of Star Wars, which is due to be re­leased next month, Bal­ly­fer­riter is pre­par­ing for a flood of the film’s cult fol­low­ers who are will­ing to go through hell and high wa­ter to walk the same ground as their idols.

A recre­ated bee­hive hut vil­lage on Ceann Sibéal, which acted as a ‘stand-in’ for Skel­lig Mhichíl dur­ing the film­ing of The Last Jedi in the early sum­mer of 2016, will be a key at­trac­tion for Star Wars fans and last Satur­day a group of lo­cal landown­ers and tourism op­er­a­tors, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Fáilte Ire­land, and film tourism ex­pert Ste­fan Roesch of Film Quest dis­cussed how best to man­age and ben­e­fit from the ex­pected on­slaught.

With lo­cal landowner Pat De­vane and Ne­olie Ó Maoileoin from Gráig act­ing as guides, the group walked the clifftop from Far­ran (where a Star Wars space­ship was parked dur­ing the film­ing) to Ceann Sibéal, which was the cen­tre of film­ing ac­tion as the lo­ca­tion of the Jedi tem­ple of ‘Ahch-To’. With wind, rain and a dense mist shroud­ing the hills it wasn’t ideal weather for the ex­cur­sion but Mr Roesch was clearly im­pressed by what he saw, al­though he thought some of the rocky out­crops looked like scenes from Mor­dor – a land­scape with which he is very fa­mil­iar through his in­volve­ment in Lord of the Rings tourism in New Zealand.

Speak­ing to The Ker­ry­man dur­ing the tour, Mr Roesch said a huge at­trac­tion for the cult fol­low­ers of Star Wars is to be able to stand on the ex­act spot where a par­tic­u­lar scene was filmed, take a ‘selfie’ pho­to­graph and post it im­me­di­ately on In­sta­gram. This re­quires good mo­bile phone net­work cov­er­age (which did ap­pear to be avail­able around Ceann Sibéal) and pre­cise iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of film­ing lo­ca­tions, which will only be pos­si­ble af­ter the film is launched here on De­cem­ber 15.

Fol­low­ing the ex­cur­sion to Ceann Sibéal Mr Roesch and the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Fáilte Ire­land sat down with lo­cals in Ó Catháin’s pub to dis­cuss the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges that would come with the vis­it­ing Star Wars fans. On Sun­day Mr Roesch vis­ited south Kerry to ex­am­ine Star Wars tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties there, and on Mon­day he con­tin­ued his mis­sion with Fáilte Ire­land on the Inishowen Penin­sula in Done­gal.

Din­gle Penin­sula Tourism Al­liance Mar­ket­ing Con­sul­tant Caro­line Boland, who helped or­gan­ise the visit along with Breege Granville and lo­cals in Bal­ly­fer­riter, said it is very im­por­tant that lo­cals con­trol the kind of tourism that fol­lows from Star Wars.

“Whether you do some­thing or do noth­ing, they’re still go­ing to come. We want the area to ben­e­fit in a sus­tain­able way… but if Bal­ly­fer­riter doesn’t take con­trol of this it’s go­ing to be over­run by tour op­er­a­tors throw­ing Star Wars tours to­gether with­out try­ing to make any con­nec­tions with the cul­ture and her­itage that is so im­por­tant in the area,” she said.

On Tues­day, Mr Roesch spoke at a Fáilte Ire­land work­shop in Dublin where he out­lined what Caro­line de­scribed as “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Game of Thrones tourism in the North of Ire­land. On Fri­day, Novem­ber 24, an­other work­shop is to be held in West Kerry to fur­ther dis­cuss and plan for Star Wars tourism here.

Photo by De­clan Malone

Ste­fan Roesch of Film Quest dis­cussing Star Wars tourism in Tigh Uí Chatháin on Satur­day with Caro­line Boland, Breege Granville and Micheál Ó Conchúir. Ste­fan Roesch of Film Quest (front) tour­ing the Star Wars film sites on Ceann Sibéal on Satur­day...

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