Beyond Westeros - The Real Game of Thrones

Created on: Tuesday, 30 April 2019. Posted in: News

Beyond Westeros - The Real Game of Thrones

Hear the gossip from medieval County Down and help shape a new trail!

Millions of people all over the world have been exposed to County Down’s incredible heritage for the first time thanks to the television phenomenon that is the Game of Thrones series. People are now flocking to Northern Ireland to Game of Thrones’ filming locations but most of them have no idea of the rivalries, marriages, battles and power struggles of the real families who built and lived in our castles, tower house and monasteries. Some of these tantalizing stories will be told at a free event at Ardglass Golf Club on Thursday 9th May 2019,  from 7pm to 8:30pm as part of the “Beyond Westeros” project led by the School of Natural and Built Heritage at Queens University and the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership,  to identify a medieval trail across County Down and ultimately the whole of Ulster. Such a trail would link the area’s many tower houses, monasteries and other medieval sites. Local people are being invited to give their ideas on the trail and it might be enhanced thorough themed banquets, tapestry making, metal working, re-enactments,  guided tours and other activities to encourage visitors to spend time in the area and to benefit the local economy.

This project is being supported and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Tourism NI, and the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities. It has been developed as part of their European Year of Cultural Heritage programme.

A Medieval Trail would leave a lasting legacy from the huge rise in visits to heritage sites used as Game Of Thrones locations, estimated by Tourism NI at 120,000 visitors in 2016, and valued at £30 million to the local economy.

The Beyond Westeros Roadmap will describe how political control was shared around 1500 AD amongst the Twelve Lordships of Medieval Ulster and their stories played out around Carrickfergus Castle, Tullaghoge Fort, Dundrum Castle, Bonamargy Friary, Dungannon Castle (Hill of the O’Neill) and Enniskillen Castle and other sites.  The Project will also work with local people, tour operators and tour guides, particularly in and around Downpatrick, to begin to establish medieval sites as cultural hubs within a network of linked sites. Individuals, businesses, artisans and groups in County Down will be invited to help develop medieval sites as cultural hubs for their community and for visitors should

A portfolio of Medieval stories and characters will be created to communicate in the community and to cultural heritage tourists. This will enhance work being undertaken by Historic Environment Division to improve visitor access and community engagement with some sites in their care in the area, and they will be closely involved throughout the Project

1.The Twelve Lordships of Medieval Ulster

The O’Neills of Tyrone & Armagh

The O’Cahans of the North Coast

The Maguires of Fermanagh

The Highland Scots McDonnells of Islay and the Antrim Glens

The English of Lecale, Ards & Carrickfergus

The Magennises of South Down

The O’Neills of Clandeboye

The McQuillans of the Route

The O’Donnells of Tirconnell

The O’Dohertys of Inishowen

The Border Lords of Monaghan

The O’Reillys of Cavan


2.Northern Ireland's use as a venue for filming the GOT TV series has led to the development of an associated tourism industry over 25 spectacular locations and places used in the show. Tens of thousands of fans travel from across the globe including North America, India, China, Australia, Europe and GB


3.Northern Ireland Screen estimates that £210 million will have been spent on goods and services as a result of the production of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland since the pilot in 2009 to the end of Season 8

Media contact: Caroline Nolan tel 07801 567 145

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