Game of Thrones
Ancient castles, timeless history, spectacular mountains and valleys, picturesque old harbours, towering cliffs and some of Europes most beautiful and unspoilt countryside. Is it any wonder that HBO’s world famous Game of Thrones chose Northern Ireland to film some of it’s most memorable scenes. When the producers were scouring the planet for the ideal locations for their award winning medieval fantasy series, their remit was tough. Book a Diamond Chauffeur Ireland Thronie Tour.
To find an ancient landscape new to the rest of the world, where dramatic cliffs gave way to beautiful valleys, medieval castles mixed with picturesque old harbours and endless surprising countryside could be as natural a setting for magical happenings as savage battles. But for all the mystery and intrigue, they also knew this landscape must be real and wild, not over cultivated or familiar. Perhaps it helped that this part of the world, where the hills and the Glens of Antrim meet the spectacular Causeway Coast, still bears the mark of centuries of conflict between warring clans that mirror that between the House of Stark and Lannister and their rivals for the Iron Throne. Or that it’s own legends, folklore and myths, still alive in local imaginations, have a power every bit as haunting as those of Westeros. Some come along with us and journey through the authentic world of the Seven Kingdoms, visiting locations from key scenes in Game of Thrones. You will observe the wild beauty of a stunning landscape, still relatively unexplored. There may be banquets and boat trips, a chance to see exquisite jewellery from the series and a door carved from the trees of the Kings Road. You can forge your own medieval knifes and follow in the footsteps of the Dothraki hordes. Fantasy has never seemed so real.
Morning Game of Thrones itinerary : Diamond Chauffeurs Ireland will drive you along Belfast Lough to the town of Carrickfergus, whose medieval castle has a history that could provide Game of Thrones with endless plot lines for several series. Further along the coast road we will come upon a disused quarry where many scenes have been filmed and some of the staging still remains. We travel through Larne on the Causeway Coast road, this road was blasted out of the rocks in the mid-1800’s, it opened up a world that had been almost sealed off. That sense of remoteness has left a landscape remarkably untouched by the modern world and a people at one with their place in it. Driving along the beautiful coastal road takes us to Cairncastle, just above the village of Ballygally and it’s lovely beach. This is a location for any dedicated Thronie fan, for it takes us back to the very beginning. In this rugged beautiful countryside in series one, episode one, Ned Stark reluctantly beheaded a deserter from the Night’s Watch as Jon Snow looked on. Later in series one, Ned’s wife, Lady Catelyn captured Tyrion Lannister here, plunging the House of Stark and Lannister into fateful conflict when she wrongly blamed him for the attempted murder of her son Bran. Here too, Bran and the others headed to the Wall at the end of the Stark territory and Littlefinger told Sansa Stark they were returning to Winterfell together. Just further on, a vast wall of basalt rock creates the magnificent natural amphitheatre of Sallagh Braes, where among other scenes, the Hound helped build a Sentry with Brother Ray before discovering the slaughter of the villagers. Ancient CairnCastle from which the area takes it’s name, is well known in local legend, which claims it was built by the King of Antrim. Mac-Fionn to confine his beautiful daughter Claovala from an unwelcome Scottish suitor. He failed and she was taken. It is not hard to see why Game of Thrones merges so seamlessly with the landscape and it’s stories. Some believe that the stone from now disappeared Cairncastle was used in the building of the 17th century Ballygally Castle, nearby on the coast. Built at one of the most turbulent times in our history, you can still see the musket holes here used for it’s defence. Today Ballygally Castle is a luxury hotel, but as atmospheric as ever and a dream destination for any Game of Thrones fan.
AFTERNOON: At Ballygally Hotel you ca enjoy lunch, deliciously conjured from the wonderful local produce of the area by talented chefs, Jon Snow Cakes and Baratheon Bread are among the tasty temptations.
Door Number Nine: Before you enter the Ballygally Castle restaurant, have a look at the beautiful Game of Thrones Door Number Nine at the entrance. In all ten such doors have been carved from beech trees which fell during a storm at the iconic Dark Hedges also known as The Kings Road. The carved doors have been placed in pubs, restaurants and hotels near filming locations. Door Nine depicts the famous battle between House Stark and House Bolton in season six. Carved on the door are the crests of House Bolton and House Stark, Ramsey Bolton’s hungry dogs and Winterfell Castle. Before you leave the hotel, pay homage to poor Lady Isabella Shaw in the Ghost Room atop the old tower. Trying to escape confinement she plunged to her death from this room. Lady Isabella’s soul, they say, has never left!! A few miles further along the coast road you arrive in Glenarm, looking across the bay you can take in the wonderful view’s of Scotland beyond. Glenarm is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest villages and takes it’s name from the Irish for ‘valley of the army’. The 17th century Glenarm Castle is still occupied by the House of McDonnell, whose forebears would have given the Lannisters a run for their money on any battlefield! If time is on your side you can take a walk on the Castle trail or a tour of the exquisite Walled Garden. The tea rooms are a great place to sample the regions traditional home baking as well as the world famous organic Glenarm Salmon and Glenarm Shorthorn Beef, produced locally. For the very knowledge and enthusiastic fan your main destination in Glenarm is the exquisite jewellery and goldsmithing of Northern Ireland’s finest jewellers, Steensons. It was their talented designers and craftspeople who fashioned many of the wonderful pieces seen in Game of Thrones. Much of their work is inspired by the rolling hills of County Antrim. In their workshop you will hear all about their work on iconic pieces for the show such as Joffrey’s famous crown. If you want your own unique Game of Thrones piece, then how about a Direwolf, House of Targaryen or Lannister pendant?
Game of Thrones Door Number Nine
Now it’s a short journey along the coast to the village of Carnlough and it’s lovely Victorian harbour. You can take a tour on local fisherman Davy Smyth’s boat, you leave from the very stone steps Arya Stark ascended in season six after being stabbed by the troublesome Waif in Braavos. In the Londonderry Arms nearby the staff will be delighted to show you the chair Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, sat on between filming. And as you can imagine she wrote a message on the back!
Soul soaring scenery: The Causeway Coast Route is rated as one of the world’s finest road trips, thanks to it’s dramatic cliffs and vibrant blue waters. But travel inland on the road from Carnlough inland, and the wide valleys, waterfall studded woodland and rolling hills of the Glens of Antrim can make the soul soar.
St Patrick’s Mountain and the Dothraki Grasslands: Twelve miles inland from Glenarm you reach Shillanavogy Road, beneath Slemish, Ireland’s most famous mountain, where it’s patron saint, St Patrick, tended sheep for several years before being kidnapped. It seems entirely fitting that beneath this extraordinary domed volcanic plug, in delightful Shillanavogy Valley, lie the Dothraki grasslands where Daenerys and Drogo were married. Here Daenarys Targaryen and her brother Viserys, Ser Jorah Mormont and the Dothraki horsemen ride through the grasslands of Essos en route to Vaes Dothrak.
Forged in fire: A few miles from Slemish is our last stop. The coal fired furnace of Eamonn Higgins Hot Milk Forge provide the perfect end to a Game of Throne tour. Eamonn will teach you how to craft your own medieval knife to take home, while his Bow Crafty courses will show you how to make a long bow, straight from the battles of the Game of Thrones.
To book a tour click on this contact or for more information click the link on the first paragraph.