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Millennium Falcon lands in Malin Head

Press AssociationPress Association 13/05/2016 Ed Carty

Close-up images of a set for the next Star Wars movie will likely spark massive debate among devotees of the sci-fi saga.

A huge structure was built over the last few days on Ireland's most northerly point - the dramatic and windswept Malin Head - with locals quick to predict it is a replica of the famous Millennium Falcon.

But the entire shoot is top secret, with locals and landowners sworn to keep it that way, and access to the beauty spot is closed for the next three days as the arrival of Hollywood actors is eagerly awaited.

The space age construction - at least 50 feet (15m) across and 10 feet (3m) high - is balanced precariously on cliffs a mile from Bamba's Crown, a headland known for producing dramatic photographs of the Northern Lights.

John Joe McGettigan, from Carrigart, Co Donegal, turned up to the set in full Stormtrooper regalia, introducing himself with his rank in the Emerald Garrison of EG 1826.

"It's absolutely fantastic ... to have Star Wars in Donegal, it's not a galaxy far, far away at all," he said.

"Everybody has their own way of going mad, this is ours."

Not even the father-of-two's fanatical devotion to the films could get him closer than a mile to the supposed set of Han Solo's spaceship.

"The shoot is top secret and I'd say the only way of getting into the set is on the Millennium Falcon itself," he said.

The space ship construction was also shielded by nets, with rescue boats deployed offshore as work intensified in the hours before filming.

Allie Farren, a local campaigner for the tourist centre at Malin Head, said the spin-offs will be huge for the remote area.

"This will be bigger than the likes of Game of Thrones like we've seen in the north attracting loads of tourists. Hopefully this will really benefit the area," Farren said.

Hugh Farren, owner of Farren's pub in Malin Head, where film crews are being fed and watered, marked the excitement with a mural of Yoda on the gable wall of the bar.

"It's a great occasion to shout from the rooftops how good an this area is," he said.

The film will shoot on Ireland's most northerly shores before returning to the southern tip, close to where scenes for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot on Skellig Michael's monastic hermitage in the Atlantic.

Jedi Temple sets have been constructed on a mountain headland, Ceann Sibeal in Co Kerry, with the filming expected to take place later this month.

Security is tight in Donegal, with only one country road leading to the location and access for eager fans closely guarded by teams of security.

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