On our fourth day in Northern Ireland my son-in-law Brian and I spent ten hours on a bus tour driving around County Down and checking out various Game of Thrones filming sites.
We saw some beautiful scenery during those ten hours as well as some interesting historical spots and we got a chance to talk to some people who acted as extras in the television show and now and then we got to view a few video clips of some of the most famous scenes from the show. We even got to meet a couple of direwolves and to wield swords and pretend we were Game of Thrones warriors. But one thing was missing: we didn’t see any dragons that day.
We did the next day, though, when we decided to take a walk through the Queens Quarter of Belfast and visit the Ulster Museum.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
The dragons hanging from the ceiling in the museum are the work of Bob Johnston, the master basketmaker at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra. Two dragons were exhibited at the museum in 2017 and a year later they returned with an additional family member. All three dragons are made from different kinds of willow branches that can be found in Northern Ireland. Bob himself maintains more than 40 types of willows in his Bangor garden in order to create masterpieces with his willow rods.
Bob also created a willow version of the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones. It was created for the gala Season Eight preview and then donated by HBO to the museum. It’s on display just off the lobby on the museum’s first floor.
Bob is a QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) scholar. He received his scholarship in 2004 which allowed him to study with experts in Ireland, the UK and France. He received the QEST award for excellence in 2017. See here for more examples of Bob’s work, including some beautiful baskets and animal sculptures.
One more floor of the museum is dedicated to the Game of Thrones theme and here we found a huge tapestry containing the story of the first seven seasons of Game of Thrones.
The 77-meter-long tapestry resembles the story-telling tapestries of the middle ages. It was created with Irish linen on state-of-the-art looms and then embroidered with cotton and metallic threads.
Game of Thrones was an extremely violent series and this violence is depicted in the majority of the panels.
The tapestry exhibit ended at the end of July and the tapestry, recently extended with the addition of all six episodes of Season Eight, is now on tour and is currently being displayed through December in Bayeux, France at a hotel a block away from the museum that holds the famous Bayeux Tapestry which tells the story of the conquest of England in 1066 by Normans and served as the inspiration for the similar Game of Thrones tapestry.
You can see the entire Game of Thrones tapestry at its own website here.
In my next posting we will take a look at what else we saw that day in the Ulster Museum.
Bonus — The Irish Rovers
Remember Peter, Paul and Mary and their Puff the Magic Dragon? Here’s how the Irish Rovers sang that song:
A final word on Game of Thrones: Mark Henry, the marketing director of Tourism Ireland, made this statement recently about the impact of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland: “Last year, 1 in 6 visitors to Northern Ireland came because they had an interest in Game of Thrones. They visited some of the locations spending nearly €60 million in the economy of Northern Ireland. When people think of “Lord of the Rings” they often associate it with New Zealand and the last film in that series came out 16 years ago, yet it’s still driving tourism to New Zealand today. We believe Game of Thrones will have the exact same effect on tourism to Northern Ireland.”