William Mercer, c. 1868, St Michael’s Church and Cell, digital scan of gelatine silver print. Permission of the Royal Irish Academy © RIA.

“Skellig provided J. J. Abrams with the perfect location for the birthplace of the Jedi. The challenge of filming Star Wars on a steep rock twelve kilometres out in the Atlantic has added enormously to the mystique of a place with a long tradition of pilgrims scaling its twin peaks. 150 years before Abrams landed on Skellig, Edwin Wyndham-Quin noticed a monastic complex on the first ordnance survey map of the rock and included it in his study of pagan forts, Christian hermitages and mediaeval churches. William Mercer photographed each site between 1866 and 1869 and the discovery in April 2023 of his print of “St Michael’s Church and Cell” provides an opportunity to revisit an adventure in photography that surpasses Abrams’ determination to film on the rock.“

For more on this story go to the Irish Examiner.

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