Ireland 2019: Ballintoy Beach and Harbour (Iron Islands)

After exploring the Giant’s Causeway on that Tuesday morning of our first week in Ireland (see here) our mini-caravan turned eastward along the northern Antrim coast and we spent most of the afternoon visiting some of the scenic spots that served as filming locations for various Game of Thrones episodes over the last ten years.

Cottages on Ballintoy Beach.

Our first stop was Ballintoy Harbour which can be found about 7.4 miles (about 12 km) from the Giant’s Causeway. The harbour is down a windy road from the village of Ballintoy. In seasons 2 and 6 of Games of Thrones the harbor served as Lordsport,  the capital of the isle of Pyke in the Iron Islands. We stood along the beach parking area and gazed at the scene in front of us and were able to pick out various rock formations that also showed up in pictures of Game of Thrones locales.

Game of Thrones marker at the carpark. We were able to match up the rocky scenery with some of the episodes in season 2.

Ballintoy Beach and Bay.

Another view of Ballintoy Beach and Bay.

My son-in-law inspected this cave near the cottages. We thought it might have been the one used a lot in various Game of Thrones episodes but were told later that most cave scenes were filmed at the Cushendun Caves further south along the Antrim coast.

Looking back at Ballintoy Beach car park from the cave and cottages area of the beach. The building on the left is a café called Roarke’s Kitchen. Ballintoy Harbour is hidden behind the car park except for two lampposts.

Another view of Roarke’s Kitchen and Ballintoy Bay.

The rocky shoreline of Ballintoy Beach.

Theon was baptized in the waters off Ballintoy Beach in episode 3 of Game of Thrones season 2.

Still another view of Ballintoy Bay.

The north wall of Ballintoy Harbour was transformed into Lordsport, capital of the isle of Pyke in the Iron Islands during the filming of Game of Thrones season 2.

The opposite side of Ballintoy Harbour. That’s Rathlin Island in the left background. Rathlin is the northernmost point of Northern Ireland.

A lone sea gull guards the rocky beach near the Ballintoy cliffs.

About two minutes further along the coat from Ballintoy we came across the car park and ticket office for the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. There is an overflow car park nearby in the Larrybane Quarry on the headland south of Ballintoy Harbour. This quarry has also served as a backdrop for various Game of Thrones episodes, particularly the scene in episode 3 of season 2 in which King Renly and his wife Margaery watch a sword-fighting contest between Brienne and Loras.

View from the path to the rope bridge. That’s Sheep Island on the right. The ruins of Kenbane Castle can be seen on the rock in the middle of the photo. Halfway up the cliff on the left is Larrybane Quarry which is now an overflow car park for the Carrick-a-Rede parking lot. The quarry was the site for Renly’s Camp in Season 2 of Game of Thrones and for Kingsmoot in season 6.

We will continue our exploration of the Antrim coast in my next post on the Carrick-a Rede rope bridge.

Bonus: the Music of Ireland — The Tin Whistle and the Low Whistle

Tin Whistle

The tin whistle is a popular instrument all over Ireland and you can find a whistler in just about every Irish band. The tin whistle is also called the penny whistle, Irish whistle, flageolet, Belfast hornpipe, and feadog stain. It’s a simple woodwind instrument similar to the recorder. It has six holes and covers two octaves.
Here’s a treat for you:
Paddy Maloney, piper of the Chieftains and John Sheahan, fiddler of the Dubliners, both on the tin whistle:

Low Whistle

The low whistle was popularized by Finbar Furey.  Finbar and his friend Bernard Overton worked together in 1971 to produce a replica of Finbar’s flute which broke during one of his tours. Overton then marketed his Overton Flute (first copper then aluminum). Finbar asked his friend to make one in G for his Lonesome Boatman. Then he asked for one in low D,  Finbar brought it with him on his next tour and the orders came flowing in: the Irish low whistle was born! The low whistle has a longer and lower pitch than the standard tin whistle.

Here’s Finbar Furey playing his own song, The Lonesome Boatman:

Piper and whistler extraordinaire Davy Spillane played both the Uilleann pipes and the low whistle in Michael Flatley’s 1997 Riverdance tour. You can also hear his whistle in the movie Titanic and several other soundtracks. I’ll save some of Spillane’s music for a later post.

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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15 Responses to Ireland 2019: Ballintoy Beach and Harbour (Iron Islands)

  1. disperser says:

    Do you know if the locals were thrilled or less-than-thrilled at having the GoT production in the area?

    The area is very photogenic.

    • Most of the locals I talked to fall into the “thrilled” category. HBO operated on a big budget and they generously compensated people and local businesses for any inconvenience caused by GoT filming. Then there are those who got jobs and new careers because of GoT. And just about everybody in Northern Ireland has been indirectly affected by the show because of the booming economy. Some people say that close to $250 million has poured into the NI economy since 2011 ( I have also heard that figure being as little as $210 million and as much as $280 million). And the tourism industry is gathering about $40 million a year. The TV and motion picture industries have been given a jolt in the arm and companies are flocking to Belfast. A Superman prequel is being filmed right now and there is talk that HBO is back with a GoT prequel that may last another 8 years!

      Ad yes, the photogenic scenery — all within an hour and a half from Belfast — has helped sell Northern Ireland as an ideal filming location.

      • disperser says:

        That’s a lot of money infused in the area. I hope it was fairly evenly distributed or some people would have been priced out of house and home.

  2. Elizabeth Murray says:

    Enjoyed your latest post..and the whistles. Thanks

  3. kzmcb says:

    Great shot of the rain coming in and I loved the fiddlers.

  4. Peter Klopp says:

    Fabulous sound on those pipe videos! I feel like dancing to the tune of the first video.

  5. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for the beautiful tour! Fabulous photos.
    Enjoyed the pipe videos.

  6. Pingback: Ireland 2019: The Titanic Museum | Crow Canyon Journal

  7. Pingback: Ireland 2019: Our Game of Thrones Tour, Part One — Strangford Lough | Crow Canyon Journal

  8. mvschulze says:

    I can only imagine what it was like during the filming of GoT, and so comforting to know the locals were apparrently compensated and more, by the film-makers presence. As always , wonderful images and descriptions, and the zoom in is a great asset to viewing details in these super sharp images (usually on my 24″ display.!) M 🙂

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