He will be a special guest in the Presidential stand on March 17th
St Patrick’s Festival has announced 'Star Wars' actor Mark Hamill is to be its inaugural international guest of honour.
The new, honourary role has been created to celebrate the achievements of an individual from the world of business, the arts, or the media who has a special connection or affinity with Ireland.
Organisers say the role is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their relationship with and contribution to our country.
Hamill, known for the role of Luke Skywalker, will be a special guest in the Presidential stand at the St Partrick's Day Parade in Dublin 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."
Fáilte Ireland’s head of festivals, Ciara Sugrue, added: "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."
"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."
Fáilte Ireland continues to invest significantly in the St Patrick’s Festival, an event which not only attracts tens of thousands of international visitors but also showcases Ireland as a fantastic tourist destination to global media. With this year’s special guest, we will have an extra bit of magic for this wonderful showcase for an Irish welcome.”
Audiences were introduced to the beauty of Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' when Rey tracked down the long-lost Luke Skywalker, portrayed by Mark Hamill.
In addition to his Star Wars connection, research into Hamill's family history has found that he has a double-link to Ireland.
His great-grandmother Elizabeth Keating was born in Kilkenny on December 6th 1873, and left Ireland for America.
Further research shows that his three-times great grandparents John Keating married Margaret Foley of Gurteen in Carlow Cathedral in 1822.
A second family line connects Mark to the Harvey family, possibly from Donegal, who were Famine immigrants that settled in America.
In 1864 Frederick Mumford, a young English sailor, was married in New Jersey to Mary Harvey, a recent Irish immigrant.
These are Mark's great-great-grandparents. The young couple moved to New York City and settled in Manhattan, where they had five children.