Star Wars Fan Pilgrimage: A Jedi’s Journey to Skellig Michael

Star Wars Reporter caught up with cosplayer and actor Brian Ballance, active member of the SWFL 501st,Rebel Legion Jedi, and Star Wars fan extraordinaire. Brian recently made a trip to the island of Skellig Michael, the filming location for Luke’s Episode VII hideout and presumably the first Jedi Temple. The historic island has recently become a destination for Star Wars fans and Brian shared his experience and photos with us.

Firstly, if you are planning a trip to Ireland and want to make the voyage to the island, Brian told us that it’s best to plan ahead. There are only a handful of boats that are licensed to make to trip and they are only able to carry 12 passengers at a time. The boats only run about 6 months out of the year and reservations are booked 6 months out. However, all hope is not lost and cancellations are known to happen. Visitors are told that if they arrive early in the morning to Portmagee, a boat might have a spot available. Brian was determined to visit the island during his trip, but was turned away the first day. The Force was with him it would seem and he was fortunate enough to get a spot on a boat on his second attempt.

The boat ride to the island
The boat ride to the island

The boat trip takes about 45 minutes each way and Brian warned that it is not for the faint of heart. The seas are rough and the wind can be bitterly cold. Once you arrive at Skellig Michael, it’s important to remember that preservation of the historic site is imperative and that no modern structures have been added to the site. No safety railings, for instance. If you decide to make the climb up the precarious 318 steps, it’s a potentially dangerous undertaking and usually takes about 30 minutes. We are told the climb is well worth the effort and tourists are able to explore several levels of the island including monk made beehive huts in addition to many of the areas seen in The Force Awakens during Rey’s climb up the “Jedi Steps”.

The stairway to the “Jedi Temple”?
The stairway to the “Jedi Temple”?

Finally, the question I wanted to know most of all, when Rey finds Luke on the island, WAS HE LOOKING AT A GRAVESTONE? Brian confirmed that there is indeed a grave-site located on the island and YES there is a gravestone in front of the spot where Luke was standing in the final scene of the film. Since the film makers would have us believe it is just a regular rock (for Jedi contemplation purposes or what have you), I guess we have to wait until December 2017 to find out if Luke is keeping watch over a mysterious grave.

Brian pointing to the area where Luke Skywalker was standing in Ep. VII
Brian pointing to the area where Luke Skywalker was standing in Ep. VII

You can check out Brian’s podcasts here:

Find out more about Skellig Michael at the Ireland World Heritage site here:

Star Wars: Episode VIII opens in theaters December 2017.

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Jennifer Hayman

IMG_0774Jennifer Hayman is a wife, mom, and all around Star Wars fanatic living in Southwest Florida. Jennifer is also an active member of Rebel Legion, the “Good Guy” branch of the Star Wars costuming and charity group, the 501st. When she isn’t talking about Star Wars to anyone who will listen, Jennifer also loves racing sailboats, table top games, and crafting gifts for her friends and family.