With the understatement and deadpan humour so characteristic of his native county, Donegal scaffolding expert Eddie Gallen has said it was "a bit of a shock" when he was asked to build the Millennium Falcon on Malin Head for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Lifford man had been sworn to secrecy about his work on the Disney Lucasfilm blockbuster in Co Donegal in 2016.

But with The Last Jedi now in cinemas, he has been speaking about working with director Rian Johnson, his cast and crew to bring the Millennium Falcon to Ireland - or the planet of Ahch-To as it is in the movie.

Thanks for the memories - Eddie Gallen with the Millennium Falcon in the foreground and background

"I met them down in Malin Head, I wasn't sure what they were looking for, to be honest," the 48-year-old told the Press Association. "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'."

"It was a bit of shock," Gallen continued.

 "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'."

In an ironic twist worthy of any intergalactic adventure, Gallen had previously worked over the years erecting platforms for archaeological restoration at another Star Wars location - Skellig Michael. He was recommended for that project and the Star Wars job by his longtime friend and colleague, events coordinator Mike O'Shea.

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Recalling the challenges of building the 12m x 12m Millennium Falcon in sections on Malin Head, Gallen said:  "We had to build it on the cliff edge and anchor it well because Malin Head is always very windy.

"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."

Millennium Falcon construction during filming on Malin Head

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

Gallen attended the special premiere screening of The Last Jedi in Letterkenny earlier this month and said watching the film "sent shivers up my spine". 

It always starts with a piece of paper...

"Though 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," he admitted.

"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."

Earlier this month, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson told RTÉ Entertainment that his Irish crew had "worked miracles building sets cantilevered out over 700 foot cliffs".

"Professionally, I don't know if I'll ever have an experience that will quite live up to it again," he said.

The filmmaker and The Last Jedi star Mark Hamill have also been continuing their love-in with Ireland in a new Tourism Ireland video:

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