Malin Head feels the Force/ Malin Head sent passer la Force

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This was Malin Head, Co Donegal, last Saturday. This intensely beautiful and sparsely-populated headland stretches its rugged shoreline into the Atlantic Ocean at the very north of the Inishowen Peninsula, and indeed Ireland. This is the kind of place we enjoy exploring with the acorns on any given day. But Malin Head might well have remained under our radar for a little longer, had it not been for one particular event.

Only a week earlier, scenes of Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi were shot on Ireland’s most northerly point. Filming took place on 13-15th May, so it was six days since the Star Wars circus had left the town (so to speak).

Only six days, and yet there was very little left to see.

‘It’s gone’, we were told when we pulled up by a group of men in high-vis jackets on the narrow road. ‘Took six weeks to build, three days to dismantle it.’ “It” was of course the replica of the iconic Millenium Falcon, which only days before, could be seen precariously perched on a cliff edge jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.

We had just been to Banba’s Crown, officially Ireland’s most northerly point, from which the panoramic views are nothing short of breathtaking. Named after a mythical Irish goddess, Banba’s Crown is topped by a Napoleonic lookout tower built by the British in 1805. Below the tower, the word EIRE, written in stones and painted white, was an important navigational marker for World War II pilots.

Armed with Grandad’s binoculars, we tried to spot something, anything, that might indicate where the filming took place.


Malin Head, Co Donegal, samedi dernier. Ce promontoire à la beauté saisissante et à la population clairsemée avance son rivage déchiqueté dans les eaux de l’océan Atlantique, à l’extrémité nord de la péninsule d’Inishowen, et de l’Irlande. C’est un des endroits que les graines de chêne aiment explorer. Pourtant, Malin Head aurait continué de nous échapper, si ce n’avait été pour un événement bien spécial.

A peine une semaine auparavant, plusieurs scènes-clés de Star Warsépisode VIII – Les Derniers Jedi furent filmées au point le plus septentrional d’Irlande. Le tournage eut lieu du 13 au 15 mai, aussi n’y avait-il que six jours que le cirque Star Wars avait quitté la ville (façon de parler).

Six jours seulement, et il n’y avait presque plus rien à voir.

“Tout est parti”, nous dit un homme en gilet fluorescent, au bord de la route étroite. “Il a fallu six semaines pour le construire, et trois jours pour tout démonter.” Il parlait évidemment de la réplique du célèbre vaisseau Faucon Millenium, qui, quelques jours plus tôt, était encore perché en équilibre précaire au bord d’un promontoire étroit battu par les vagues atlantiques.

Nous arrivions de Banba’s Crown, extrémité nord de l’Irlande, d’où la vue panoramique s’étend jusqu’à l’Ecosse par grand beau temps. Banba’s Crown, ainsi nommée en hommage à une déesse de la mythologie celtique, est coiffée d’une tour de garde napoléonienne, érigée par la Grande Bretagne en 1805. En contrebas, le mot EIRE, écrit en cailloux peints en blanc, était un repère de navigation important pour les pilotes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Armés des jumelles de Grandad, nous avons scruté les alentours, à la recherche du moindre indice dénotant le lieu du tournage.

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It is only after talking to that group of security guys that we told our very own Jedi the purpose of our trip to Malin Head. Far from being ecstatic, he felt bitterly disappointed that the Millenium Falcon was nowhere to be seen. It took lengthy explanations and much photographic evidence to swing his mood. Later on, a hearty meal at the Seaview Tavern sealed the deal.

We drove up to a viewing platform to see whatever was left of the film set – a couple of white trucks, people milling about, and several large skips. But such is the level of secrecy surrounding the making of The Last Jedi, a security guard sat in his car on that viewing platform, making sure that no unauthorized people sneaked up to the remains of the set. More security personnel still blocked access to the two roads built especially for the film shoot.


Ce n’est qu’après avoir parlé au vigile en gilet fluorescent que nous avons révélé à notre Jedi le but de notre escapade. Loin d’être ravi, il fut profondément déçu que le Faucon Millenium eut déjà disparu. Il fallut de longues explications et plusieurs preuves par l’image avant qu’il se reprenne. Plus tard, un bon repas à Seaview Tavern acheva de rétablir sa bonne humeur.

En voiture, nous sommes montés à un point de vue d’où on apercevait ce qu’il restait du plateau de tournage : deux semi-remorques blanches, des gens qui s’affairaient, et plusieurs grosses bennes à ordures. La réalisation des Derniers Jedi requiert le secret absolu : de ce point de vue, un vigile surveille en permanence que personne ne tente de se faufiler sur ce qu’il reste du plateau de tournage ; d’autres agents de sécurité bloquaient l’accès aux deux pistes construites exprès pour l’acheminement de matériel sur le plateau.

The Millenium Falcon built for the three days of shooting at Malin Head / Le Millenium Falcon, construit à Malin Head pour trois jours de tournage. © Mark Nolan / Inishowen Photography

The Millenium Falcon built for three days of shooting at Malin Head /
Le Faucon Millenium, construit à Malin Head pour trois jours de tournage.
© Mark Nolan / Inishowen Photography

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The arrow points at the spot where the Millenium Flacon stood. La flèche indique le lieu où se trouvait le Faucon Millenium.

The arrow points at the spot where the Millenium Falcon stood.
La flèche indique le lieu où se trouvait le Faucon Millenium.

‘I was the power behind Star Wars!’, announced the Curiosity Shop owner with a cheeky grin. A scene was filmed on Esky Beach, just across the road from his shop, for which he provided a power socket.

Malin Head will forever remember its brush with the intergalactic sci-fi saga. The locals, whether actively involved with the filming, or mere witnesses to the top secret proceedings, will retell their stories for the rest of their lives… once they are no longer bound by the confidentiality agreements they signed.

Star Wars has put Malin Head on the world map, and I can’t wait to see it on the big screen. It’s going to be a long wait until December 2017.


“J’ai fait la prise de Star Wars !” annonça le commerçant du Curiosity Shop avec un sourire amusé. Une scène du film a été tournée sur la plage de Esky, de l’autre côté de la route en face de son échoppe, pour laquelle il fournit… une prise électrique !

Malin Head se souviendra longtemps du passage de la saga intergalactique. Les gens du coin, qu’ils aient joué un rôle actif dans le tournage, ou qu’ils aient simplement observé les va-et-vient top secret, raconteront leurs anecdotes pour le restant de leurs jours… une fois que les accords de confidentialité qu’ils ont signés seront caducs.

Star Wars a mis Malin Head sur la carte mondiale, et j’ai hâte de le voir sur grand écran. L’attente va être longue jusqu’en décembre 2017.

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Additional information

Star Wars Malin HeadSurrounding the filming of Episode VIII at Malin Head, Star Wars Malin Head has been created. This new Facebook group is dedicated to the promotion of Malin Head, Co Donegal, which was used for filming Star Wars Episode VIII from 13-15th May 2016. Members are encouraged to post pictures, comments and videos of those wonderful three days and anything that may benefit the community of Malin Head and those that love Star Wars!

Seaview Tavern logoSeaview Tavern
Ballygorman
Malin Head
Co Donegal
Tel. +353 074 937 0117
The Seaview Tavern is where we had a bite to eat after our Star Wars tour of Malin Head. This B&B/restaurant/pub/grocery store/petrol station also offers a camping field for camper vans and motorhomes.

The Curiosity Shop
Esky Bay
Tel. +353 074 937 0236
Here is a quaint establishment owned and run by Pete and Susan McAvenue. A great place to stop and find unusual items and knick knacks of your visit to Malin Head.

Visit Inishowen logoFor all tourist information about Inishowen and Malin Head, an area of the Wild Atlantic Way, please see Visit Inishowen‘s website.

 


Pour en savoir plus

Star Wars Malin HeadA l’occasion du tournage de l’épisode VIII à Malin Head, Stars Wars Malin Head a été créé. Ce nouveau groupe Facebook se consacre à la promotion de Malin Head, Co Donegal, lieu de tournage de Star Wars, épisode VIII du 13 au 15 mai 2016. Les membres sont invités à poster des images, commentaires et vidéos de ces trois jours merveilleux, ainsi que tout matériau susceptible d’intéresser l’ensemble de la communauté de Malin Head et toutes celles et ceux qui aiment Star Wars !

Seaview Tavern
Ballygorman
Malin Head
Co Donegal
Tel. +353 074 937 0117
Après notre visite à thème Star Wars de Malin Head, nous avons déjeuné à Seaview Tavern. Ce B&B/restaurant/bar/épicerie/station service dispose aussi d’un terrain de camping pour les camping cars.

The Curiosity Shop
Esky Bay
Tel. +353 074 937 0236
Cette échoppe pittoresque, aux propriétaires charmants, regorge d’objets anciens et bibelots inattendus qui feront un souvenir original de votre passage à Malin Head.

Wild Atlantic Way logoPour tout renseignement touristique sur Inishowen et Malin Head, une région située sur le Wild Atlantic Way, veuillez consulter le site officiel de Visit Inishowen.

 

12 Responses to “Malin Head feels the Force/ Malin Head sent passer la Force

  • Yasmina
    4 years ago

    Such a shame you missed it! But worth the trip I’m sure for scenery..at least L can relate more now to landscape.x

    • We wouldn’t have got anywhere near it during filming, the whole area was on lockdown, with a no fly zone and no wi-fi to keep drones away! It was definitely worth the trip though for the scenery and the feelgood factor still lingering. A week later, the place and the people were still high from those three incredible days.

  • My boyfriend is a huge Star Wars fan – he would love this! I totally fell for Ireland on our trip do Dublin last year and definitely want to explore more of the country so win-win!! 🙂

    • You absolutely have to come back then! The Star Wars locations in Ireland are remote and hard to get to, but so worth the trip in my opinion. You’ll be blown away!

  • stunning landscape! had no idea about the star wars connection:) #farawayfiles

    • It is remote and it is beautiful, and it makes perfect sense that Malin Head was picked as a Star Wars location. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Is the spot where they found Luke Skywalker in the first movie of the new series? As always your photos are so beautiful… The force is strong in this one! Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

    • The spot where Luke Skywalker was found at the end of the latest movie is called Skellig Michael, and it is off the coast of Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland. Malin Head will only feature in the upcoming movie, The Last Jedi, to be released in December this year.
      As ever, thanks for stopping by and for hosting #FarawayFiles x 😉

  • Great post, Annette. I’ve just read this with my son who is a massive Star Wars fan. We’ve enjoyed our sneak peak of the next film very much. I love these Irish landscapes so much. Hoping to see them for myself one day. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • Thanks Clare! I’m hoping to someday take the acorns to Skelling Michael, i.e. the spot where Luke Skywalker was found at the very end of Episode VII. That would be great for our Jedi, and I’m sure your son would love the ‘pilgrimage’ too! x

  • It will be interesting to see if this has a similar impact on Malin Head as it had on Skellig Michael.

    We love Inishowen (indeed, my ancestors on my Dad’s side were from here. “Quigley”, as in “Quigley’s Point”) but I personally haven’t been back for many, many years. Will have to rectify that the next time I’m back “home” – it is such a beautiful, remote and wild place. #FarawayFiles

  • OH how fun! We are BIG Star Wars fans in our house and would have loved a Millenium Falcon sighting as well! What a beautiful area even without the hype though. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

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