'Star Wars' to Return to Irish Island for 'Episode VIII' Shoot

Star Wars Force Awakens 3 H 2014
<p>Star Wars Force Awakens 3 H 2014</p>   |   Walt Disney Studios
The Irish government unveiled a new partnership with Lucasfilm to allow use of the ancient location of Skellig Michael.

A galaxy far, far away is returning to the Irish island of Skellig Michael, with local authorities approving future production for a Star Wars feature.

The Irish government announced Thursday that permission has been granted for Lucasfilm to return to the historical location, which has been a protected UNESCO world heritage site since 1996, provided no damage comes to the island's ecology or bird life. (Ecologists and specialist staff from the country's National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the National Monuments Service will be on site during shooting to ensure that is the case.)

"Sceilg Mhichil (Skellig Michael) is one of our most dramatic and beautiful islands and it is very easy to understand why its stunning scenery has caught the attention of the makers of one of the world's biggest film franchises," said government official Heather Humphreys in a statement. "The return of Star Wars to Sceilg Mhichil is another win for Ireland and the Irish film industry, which is a growing and dynamic sector of our economy."

Humphreys added: "Specialist staff from my Department have been in discussions with Lucasfilm since March of this year in relation to a limited amount of filming, expected to last two to four days."

The agreement, initially reported by RTE, will allow Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII to follow this December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens in using the location. J.J. Abrams's revival of the space opera franchise filmed there last year.
Lucasfilm did not respond to a request for comment.