The legend that is the one and only Mark Hamill is coming to Ireland to help us bring in our biggest national holiday.
The Star Wars actor has been named the St. Patrick’s Festival Inaugural International Guest of Honour, a new role that has been created to celebrate the achievements of an individual from the worlds of business, the arts, or the media, who has a special connection or significant affinity with Ireland.
According to stpatricksfestival.ie, the role is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their relationship with and contribution to our country. During his visit, Mark will be a special guest in the Presidential stand to view the National Festival Parade on March 17th.
Susan Kirby, St. Patrick’s Festival CEO said: “The role of International Guest of Honour is something we have been considering for a few years. There are so many examples of Irish people and the diaspora achieving eminence across many different art forms and disciplines worldwide. Many of these have a special connection with Ireland and we want to celebrate and recognise this.
“Mark has a special affinity to Ireland through his filming of Star Wars and family history and has done much for our film industry. We’re looking forward to welcoming him back ‘home’ to celebrate our national holiday and St. Patrick’s Festival with us.”
Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Festivals, Ciara Sugrue said: “The Force will truly be with us on March 17th and we are delighted to hear that Mark Hamill will be joining us as the first ever St Patrick’s Festival International Guest of Honour.
“Since filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens in County Kerry, Mark has been a great ambassador for Ireland and it is amazing to have someone of such universal – even galactic - acclaim in this new honorary role.”
Aside from shooting The Force Awakens here, Hamill also has ancestral connections to Ireland. His great-grandmother Elizabeth Keating was born in Kilkenny on 6th December 1873 and left Ireland for America when she was a teenager.
A second family line connects Mark to the Harvey family, possibly from Donegal, who were Famine immigrants that settled in America. Mark's great-great-grandparents were Frederick Mumford, a young English sailor, and Mary Harvey, a recent Irish immigrant at the time, who married in 1864, after which they moved to Manhattan to raise a family.