BALLINSKELLIGS, Ireland – First it was Star Wars now it is the Alien film franchise that is helping attract visitors to the newly opened ‘Dark Sky’ reserve centre in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry.
A striking life-size sculpture made from scrap metal of one the murderous monsters from the Alien series, starring Sigourney Weaver, has landed outside the former Garda station and is appropriately fitted with flashing blue lights.
Director of the successful bid to gain the prestigious international award of gold-tier Dark Sky reserve status for her adopted homeland of southwest Kerry, Julie Ormonde said the sculpture “weighed a tonne” and was on long-term loan.
It was lent by Cork scuba-diver Matt Cooper and is believed to have been made in Thailand.
Ms Ormonde, who volunteers at both Ballinskelligs and at a centre in Waterville near the Bay View Hotel said that the opportunity for astro-tourism should not be overlooked.
She has called on authorities, particularly the various tourism authorities, to get behind the promotion of astronomy and of the south and west international Dark Skies reserve in a formal fashion.
“They should not lose this opportunity,” Ms Ormonde, who is originally from Dublin, said.
Meanwhile, the area is attracting international renown — with film crews from Japan, the UK and New Zealand already having arrived.
Last week, director JJ Abrams shot scenes for the latest Star Wars film on Skellig Michael.
And sources suggest that the publicity leading up to and surrounding the designation of the south and west Kerry area as a Dark Skies reserve might just have caught his attention.