The Force continues to be strong in Ireland after Star Wars director George Lucas dined at a top Belfast restaurant on Thursday night. 

Lucas, who directed the first Star Wars film and three prequels in the late nineties and early 2000s, dropped into Noble, an award-winning restaurant in Holywood, Co Down. 

Delighted staff tweeted, "Holywood not Hollywood" but Saul McConnell, owner of Noble, was coy about the film producer's visit. "We were told it was a VIP but not who it was," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

He added: "He and his party had a lovely bite to eat, they enjoyed themselves and he was very obliging to have his picture taken with some of the staff. There was a great buzz.

"We have been bound to confidentially, but like all our customers we want them to enjoy their meal in private and we hope Mr Lucas had a good time and felt at home in Holywood.

Key scenes for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi were filmed on Sceilig Mhichíl

"We've been very lucky, what with Game of Thrones, to have a few celebrities drop in and we just work to make sure they enjoy themselves."

The new Star Wars franchise has had a strong relationship with Ireland. Key scenes for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi were filmed on Sceilig Mhichíl and the movie has also shot in locations around Malin Head.  

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in cinemas on December 15.