It’s widely known that the Ahch-To scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker were filmed on Skellig Michael, a small uninhabited island in southwest Ireland off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula. (Fun fact: Roughly a dozen miles east-southeast of Skellig Michael is an island named “Scariff“. I wonder if the Death Star plans are stored there.)
My paternal grandfather’s father was born in County Kerry in a small town on the Iveragh Peninsula. Immigration changed the spelling of our name (as they tended to do 120 or so years ago), but there are still some Delahunty third cousins living there.
Doing extensive research into the history of Skellig Michael (aka “reading about it on Wikipedia“), I learned that there are records of people visiting the island around 2000 years ago and there are records of monasteries going back around 1000 years. The island remained a possession of the Catholic Canons Regular until Elizabeth I dissolved the Ballinskelligs Abbey in 1578. At that point, ownership passed to the Butler family until the 1820s when the Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin purchased the island from John Butler of Waterville.
I’ve done a lot of family research over the last 25 years. I’ve traced some branches of my family back over 500 years. However, my great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Delahunty (born 1830) married Arabella Butler. Arabella and her father (my great4-grandfather), Theobald Butler, were born in County Kerry, Ireland. I need to do more research to link them to this specific John Butler of Waterville, but there’s gotta be a link there somewhere. It seems very likely that one of my ancestors may have at one time owned what is now most famously a Jedi temple.
Yeah, I’d really like to be a total geek and visit there for cosplay photos sometime. I’d have to see how the locals think about that first though. (I know tourists can visit the island and I’m sure plenty of Star Wars fans have already done so…but I’d only do it if it’s not going to get me in trouble.)
If you’re also a descendant of any of the people I’ve mentioned, please drop me a line so we can see if or how our family tries might intersect. Are we sixth cousins? That’d be kinda cool.