Star Wars festival was ‘out of this world’

Save the Princess -Pictured are Emma and Peter Courtney who had a visit from the Star Wars Crew for their Star Wars themed wedding in McGrory's Hotel, Culdaff at F�ilte Ireland's 'May the 4th Be With You' festival in Inishowen. Photo Clive Wasson
Save the Princess -Pictured are Emma and Peter Courtney who had a visit from the Star Wars Crew for their Star Wars themed wedding in McGrory's Hotel, Culdaff at F�ilte Ireland's 'May the 4th Be With You' festival in Inishowen. Photo Clive Wasson

The success of the weekend’s ‘May the 4th Be With You’ Festival shows how Inishowen can substantially benefit from its links to the Star Wars film franchise.

Ali Farren, manager of Malin Head Community Centre, told the ‘Journal’ how “fields that had never seen a camper van or caravan were also full with them, which was great to see.”

Mr. Farren described how the Failte Ireland festival, which celebrated Malin Head and Inishowen’s links to the film, brought people to the area who had never visited before.

He said: “There was a great community buzz and people who had never come to Malin Head before, even people from this county, travelled here over the weekend, all because of Star Wars.”

Scenes from Star Wars Episode VIII -The Last Jedi were filmed in Malin Head and Ali said it wasn’t just children who were excited to see Stormtroopers and other characters from the films.

“We had a lot of excited adults who wanted to get their photo taken with a Star Wars character. I’m delighted the people of Inishowen were able to pull this off. The Failte Ireland crew were really impressed. This is something we can market and develop now into the future. Credit must go to Failte Ireland, Donegal County Council and Go Visit Donegal, but this would not have happened without Explore Inishowen and manager Heidi Doherty, who put in a huge amount of work.”

Fáilte Ireland’s ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival saw three days of events not just in Inishowen, but also across the Kerry villages of Ballyferriter, Portmagee and Valentia Island .

Celebrating May the 4th - the day when fans across the globe commemorate the Star Wars Universe - the festival sought to capitalise on the enthusiasm for the movie series, following filming for recent Star Wars films in locations along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Commenting on the festival, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said: “The ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival was designed to attract visitors to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, not only over the May the 4th weekend but throughout the year. With the addition of Donegal as well as Kerry as a location, this year’s festival highlighted all that the wonderful West Coast has to offer visitors.”

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin said: “The inclusion of iconic Irish landscapes in the Star Wars films has given the Wild Atlantic Way fantastic exposure around the world and the festival is a brilliant opportunity to promote the West Coast of Ireland and the country as a whole.”

Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Festivals, Ciara Sugrue said: “Star Wars has created a curiosity around the Wild Atlantic Way and raised its profile amongst fans both domestically and internationally and this festival and the content we have been able to capture over the last few days will only raise the profile of the region further, attracting more visitors throughout the year.”

Following the success of the weekend, this week is also another significant one for Malin Head and Inishowen, as public consultation workshops for the Malin Head Visitor Management Plan.

The first workshop is on Wednesday, May 8 in St. Mary’s Community Hall, Carnmalin, Malin Head, followed by another on Thursday, May 9 in McGrory’s Hotel, Culdaff. Another workshop will take place on Tuesday, May 14 at The Station Room, Public Services Centre, Carndonagh and again on Wednesday, May 15 at St Patrick’s Parochial Hall, Malin Village. Booking is recommended and you can book your place by email to MalinHeadSDP@gmail.com or book online at http://bit.ly/MalinHeadWorkshops. Each workshop will take place from 6.45pm – 9pm each evening. Keys and Monaghan Architects together with Cooney Architects have been appointed to prepare conceptual design and produce a final plan.