#MyCutiCuti: Playing Westeros Royals in Northern Ireland
Updated: Jan 28, 2019
You might be wondering who these Westeros Royals are. Are they some sort of Irish monarch or something? Where is Westeros? Ireland? There is a place called Westeros in Ireland? I have never heard of it, are the princes and princesses gorgeous? Well, to answer that very question--the Westeros royals are very much handsome. However, sadly, they are fictional, like non-existent. But, why are you talking about them if they’re not real? Well, to make it simple, fantasy is a great thing. And there are also those out there who know the existence of Westeros; these people are fans of this show called Game of Thrones (myself included!). It is no doubt one of the greatest series in TV history. Therefore, I’m calling all fans of the mighty show Game of Thrones to prepare a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy reading this.
When I knew I was going there, I had all these crazy ideas of visiting all the filming locations there but thanks to time constraints, I couldn’t. That’s a reason why I should go back! I then realised that I was going to Ireland, not Northern Ireland, which was where the filming location is located in. So what I did was: I went on internet and searched for GoT tours starting from Dublin. And luck was on my side after all; there are tours from Dublin. What is this Ireland-not-filming-location-thang-you’re talking about you may wonder. THE Ireland I’m talking about is the Northern Ireland of the UK, not Ireland the republic where our students go to med school! Not to be confused, both Ireland and Northern Ireland are two separate countries but both are on the same island. There isn't a border, if you’re wondering, so no passport control and stamps on your passport if you travel overland.
The tour started at 0800 hours and the pickup point was at Hilton Garden Inn at 0745 sharp, but they arrived late. But not like Malaysian late so it didn’t bother me much. Our tour guide was Lar, a very nice and funny lad. He’s one of the Wildling extras in the show and on Vikings as well. He told us about working with Kit Harrington, saying what a fine bloke he was and how super dope it was to work with the rest of the crew. Next was our driver whom I forgot his name but he was our ‘’King in the Bus!’’ and super awesome as well. After briefing us, Lar started handing us a pen and a piece of paper called Brain of Thrones, which was basically a quiz to test our knowledge/how well do we know the show. The one who aced the quiz got to be the King in the North, which was certainly not me as I only got a solid 5/10 and I don’t remember what the questions were. But when Lar said VALAR MORGHULIS, I was the only one who answered back with VALAR DOHAERIS. Lar was impressed upon hearing it. #bragging
We made a rest stop at Applegreen Castle Bellingham (what a fancy name for ‘R&R’) and I got myself a mocha from Costa. 40 minutes later, we were all ready for Newcastle where Tollymore Forest was. Once all of us got down from the bus, Lar started distributing cloaks to us. We walked into the forest in our cloaks and we got to this place where Will, a deserter from the Night’s Watch saw the bodies killed by the White Walkers before he was beheaded by Ned Stark. Poor him = (
From there, we went to North of Winterfell for scenes from episode one of the first season. Ned Stark along with Robb, Bran, Jon, and Theon were returning from the execution of the deserter when they found a dead stag, which had gored a female direwolf. She had given birth to pups, all of which were huddled by their mother’s corpse.
The direwolf is the symbol of House Stark (if you didn't know) and finding there are as many pups as these for the Stark children, they took the pups back to Winterfell; one each for Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon Stark, and Jon Snow. After that, we went to see the place where Jon and Tyrion stopped for a rest en route to Castle Black. We then went to a little town called Strangford for lunch at The Lobster Pot. I didn’t dine, and went for a walk down the street instead. First thing I saw was the direwolves! However, they were busy with a Belfast group so I went to a store that sells official merchandise and shopped for a bit. I then walked to the direwolves place and spent some time with the direwolves all by myself before my Dublin group came to play with them. They are Odin and Thor who played Bran’s Summer and Robb’s Grey Wind. And look how happy and photogenic they are!
It was Castle Ward (or Winterfell on the show) we were heading to next. It was just a touch-n-go because we went to Audley’s Castle first.
Seen in Season 2 as the location for the Battle of Oxcross where Robb met Talisa that came to a bloody end at the Red Wedding. And if you read the book, Talisa didn’t even exist. He married some Jeyne, daughter of a Lord somewhere. We went along the shore next where Brienne and Jaime found three people who had been hung and Lar decided to sing us some song from Vikings. And we went back to Winterfell. He briefed us about the stable where Bran practices his archery training and we took a group photo there.
All good things must come to an end. It was our last stop of the tour before heading back to Dublin. Our last location was Inch Abbey at Downpatrick. It was seen in Season 2 as well when Robb was declared King in the North. Honestly, it was such a lovely place. Nice ruin I might say. We took a group photo with banners, sigils, swords and all the props we could find. After loads of picture-taking and tons of screaming ‘’King in the North! King in the North! King in the North!’’, we were done with the tour.