Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sun May 22 2016

‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ Filming Turns North Ireland Into a No-Fly Zone

Entertainment | Christine Bord | May 22, 2016

‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ Filming Turns North Ireland Into a No-Fly Zone

Photo courtesy of Disney via "Star Wars" YouTube

Filming of the new "Stars Wars" movie is so secretive, a flight over Ireland was forced to find an alternate route on Monday. The Aer Lingus flight from Donegal Airport to the Glasgow Airport had to take a more southerly route to avoid the "Star Wars: Episode VIII" shoot taking place on Malin Head, the northernmost point in Ireland. 

A no-fly zone was put into place around the country for "safety reasons," according to the Irish Aviation Authority. But, later, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht did confirm the restrictions were due to "filming activity."

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The limitations were in place over Bow Head in Cork, Loop Head in Clare and Malin Head through May 19 and continue over Sybil Head and Dunmore Head in Kerry through May 26. The movie's producers are hoping the no-fly zone will keep drone operators, and potential spoilers, at bay. Anyone who does try to fly their drone over the area should be warned their aircraft will be confiscated and could be used as evidence if the owner is found guilty of breaking the law. 

It isn't just the skies that are being protected either. Locals in Loop Head, County Clare were asked to sign confidentiality agreements while filming took place at the Loop Head lighthouse on Tuesday. The lighthouse and surrounding area were also closed off to visitors and would-be lookie loos for the entire day. But, even with all of these restrictions, some things are too big to hide. Last week, fans noticed a large structure being built on the cliffs of Malin Head that many believe was the Millennium Falcon. Eagle-eyed locals have also seen Jedi Temple sets being constructed on Ceann Sibeal in County Kerry. 

Knowing they were in a drone-free zone also gave the movie's stars more freedom to kick back when they weren't shooting. Mark Hamill was spotted at Farren's Bar in Malin Head, while Daisy Ridley and director Rian Johnson joined in on a music session with the locals at McGrory's Hotel in Culdaff. "I love it (Donegal), it's gorgeous and everyone has made us feel like part of the family," Hamill said of his time in Malin Head

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The strict restrictions are among the first of their kind for a movie shoot, but aren't surprising considering "Episode VIII" is expected to cost more than $200 million dollars. Now that's an investment worth protecting. 

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