Northern Ireland

Building the Millennium Falcon on Malin Head

Millennium Falcon Image copyright PA
Image caption The ship was brought over from England in sections and assembled on the cliff

A County Donegal man who built Star Wars' Millennium Falcon on cliffs on the northern tip of Ireland has described it as an amazing experience.

Eddie Gallen assembled the iconic spaceship at Malin Head in Donegal for The Last Jedi.

Mr Gallen, a father of two who lives in Strabane, County Tyrone, is a specialist in extreme scaffolding,

He was sworn to secrecy ahead of the film's release, but has now revealed his work on the blockbuster.

Mr Gallen said the Star Wars team did not give much away when they signed him to the project.

"I met them down in Malin Head, I wasn't sure what they were looking for, to be honest," he said.

"I knew they were looking for access platforms etc and something to support props, but with the secrecy involved and it being Star Wars and the confidentiality around it, I didn't know until the last minute when I was handed a sheet of paper with my name on it, and it was basically saying you are building the Millennium Falcon here."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Eddie Gallen said seeing the finished product on screen sent shivers up his spine

He described it as "a bit of shock".

"I went back home and my wife and two boys were standing in the kitchen and they said 'how did you get on today?', as you would when you arrive home, and I said 'not bad, I have to start building the Millennium Falcon'.

"They all just stood and stared and said 'what?' and I said 'yes, I have to build it down on Malin Head'."

The 12 x 12 metre ship was brought over from England in sections. Mr Gallen and his team had to assemble those within a scaffolding support structure.

"We had to build it on the cliff edge and anchor it well because Malin Head is always very windy," he said.

"Most of it had to be supported with our scaffolding - then we had to put it all together, the panelling etc, stick it all together and turn it into a spaceship, a pretty famous one at that.

"It was dressed and decorated and left looking pretty spectacular. It looked really, really well and the location made it look even more special."

Mr Gallen remained on site when the cast and crew arrived for a week's filming.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The set was on Ireland's most northern point at Malin Head

He fulfilled a health and safety role while the scenes featuring Mark Hamill, as Luke Skywalker, and Daisy Ridley, as Rey, were shot.

"Everybody there from the cast right down to the crew had a job to do and they all got on with it and worked together perfectly," he said.

"There was no hierarchy, everybody had a job to do. They were so professional, everybody was the same, everybody helped each other. It was amazing to watch that in operation."

With fans flooding to the area, Mr Gallen said the team working at Malin Head had to remain tight-lipped when mingling with fans in local pubs.

"Rumours were rife that the Millennium Falcon had landed in Malin Head, but we didn't tell anyone, because we weren't allowed to," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Fans flocked to the area as word of the filming spread

He was invited to a special Disney premiere screening in Letterkenny, County Donegal, earlier this month.

"Watching it sent shivers up my spine," he said.

"When I was watching the movie I was looking through the storyline, because I was looking behind the actors to see where they were actually at, looking for the Millennium Falcon.

"I would nearly go and watch the movie again and follow the storyline this time.

"It was amazing to be involved with it - really, really enjoyable."

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