Good Food Ireland Does Game of Thrones!
Westeros and Essos. Do these names mean anything to you? If you are one of the rare folks who have never watched even one single episode of Game of Thrones, you may wonder what we’re on about. But for the millions of fans who have witnessed this epic medieval fantasy unfold over seven amazing seasons, Wessos and Essos are the mystical continents which form the backdrop to a legendary tale. Noble family dynasties fight over control of the Seven Kingdoms and the Iron Throne. There are those who would oppose them, and even fight for independence from the Kingdoms. Game of Thrones is a magical trip back in time, when men were men and a fight to the death was normal! If you want to know more, well, you’ll just have to watch this iconic show!
GOT, as it’s fondly known by fans, is a spectacular showpiece of television, adapted from the series of fantasy novels called A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R.R. Martin. The author himself has said that he wanted to write a big story that had ‘battles and castles and dragons.’ This he duly did. A Game of Thrones, the first book in the series, lent its name to this epic show.
GOT fans will name the acting, the adventures, the battles, the love scenes or the costumes as favourite bits of this series. But what ties all of these elements together are the stunning locations used for filming. Northern Ireland is home to many of these spectacular locations, made even more magical in Game of Thrones by the power of movie making. These places which locals have admired for many years have now drawn the attention of the world stage, thanks to this rollercoaster story from medieval times. People are flocking to see the faboulous scenery which has captured their imaginations in Game of Thrones.
THE DARK HEDGES
County Antrim’s Dark Hedges made a brief appearance very early on in the Game of Thrones story, named as the King’s Road. An avenue of 90 beech trees over 200 years old, whose branches intertwine to form a magnificent arch over the road, are just as stunning in real life as they were on film. This now internationally famous location was originally created by the Stuart family who planted the trees at the entrance to their mansion Gracehill in the 18th Century.
We expect they had absolutely no idea when they planted the beech trees just what a furore they would cause over two centuries later! In January 2016, Storm Gertrude visited the island of Ireland and blew down two of these ancient trees. Their wood was used to carve ten magnificent Game of Thrones doors, now hung in various locations in Northern Ireland. Each tell their own story of an episode in Season 6. We’ll let you into a secret.
Door Three, which depicts a lone Direwolf, battle scenes and signs of an exodus from the Iron Islands, features at the Percy French Restaurant at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. Ballygally Castle on the Causeway Coastal Route is home to Door Six, which shows the wounded and bleeding face of a Direwolf from House Stark, the flayed body of a naked man and swords and shields indicating of a bloody battle. It all makes perfect sense to GOT fans!
CAIRNCASTLE AND ITS GRAVEYARD
Cairncastle, located high on the Antrim Plateau, formed a backdrop to early Game of Thrones scenes. In the old graveyard in Saint Patrick’s Church in the village, a legendary Spanish Chestnut Tree flourishes. This tree is said grow from the grave of a young Spanish nobleman who drowned when the Spanish Armada fled along the coastline in the 16th Century. Locals of the time found the body of the man and buried him here. It’s thought the tree could have sprung from seeds the man may have carried in his pocket when he died. Samples of the tree have been tested and shown to date back to 16th Century, which adds credibility to this amazing story!
Cushenden Cave is where Sorceress Milesandre gave birth to the Shadow Baby in Season Two of Game of Thrones. Rising from a small stony beach is a steep rocky headland, which is home to caves formed over 400 million years by extreme weather conditions. This hidden gem attracted the attention of GOT’s location hunters with its pre-historic looks and remote natural beauty. The caves lie close to the conservation village of Cushenden in the Glens of Antrim.
Murlough Bay is named from the Irish world ‘Murlach’, which means sea inlet. That’s just what this is, a window on the ocean with views of the Mull of Kintyre and Rathlin Island, plus Jura, Islay and other Scottish islands. This bay appears in Game of Thrones as Slavers Bay in the Seven Kingdoms. Here in this remote and stunning location, viewers see Tyrion and Ser Jorah discovered and captured by a slave ship.
Ballintoy Harbour in Co. Antrim was featured as a port of the Iron island where Theon was baptised, watched over by his sister Yara. In real life, this is a real working harbour where local fishermen land their catches. The village close to the harbour has lovely little shops and two churches which support a thriving local community. Ballintoy is very close to the iconic Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim.
GOOD FOOD IRELAND GAME OF THRONES EXPERIENCE
You can marry good food with all these great locations on our specially designed Game of Thrones tour. You’ll visit Ballygally Castle for a Game of Thrones Afternoon Tea with delights like Winterfell Jaffa Cakes, Jon Snow Cakes, Hodor Pulled Pork Brioche and Baratheon Bread. The Bushmills Inn will be your place of rest with a superb dinner in the restaurant and a chat with the Head Chef, who will talk you through all the local produce he uses for the menu here in this historic old inn. Check out our Game of Thrones Experience Tour here.