Game of Thrones signs plan to boost tourism

The Game of Thrones sign which it is proposed be situated at Linford Car Park at Knockdhu. INLT-07-700-con
The Game of Thrones sign which it is proposed be situated at Linford Car Park at Knockdhu. INLT-07-700-con

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is proposing to spend around £2000 on two Game of Thrones signs showing filming at Knockdhu and Shilnavogy Valley.

The local authority is aiming to have the signs erected in time for the launch of series six of the blockbuster fantasy epic on April 24, enabling Tourism Ireland to further promote the Game of Thrones product and filming locations in Northern Ireland.

The proposal is due to come before a meeting of Mid and East Antrim’s Economic Growth and Development Committee on February 15, when councillors will be asked for permission to manufacture and install the signs.

The sign at Knockdhu tells how Cairncastle has often doubled for the lands north of Winterfell in the epic television drama.

The main picture depicts an early scene from the first series of the HBO television drama, when Lord Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark, played by Sean Bean, sentences a deserter from the Night’s Watch to death.

Despite the man warning of the threat from the evil White Walkers, who he has witnessed murder Wildlings at the Wall, Ned Stark executes him.

The picture shows Ned with his sword held high as two soldiers from Winterfell hold down the captive.

His ward Theon Greyjoy, played by Alfie Allen, looks on.

The sign also includes smaller pictures of scenes shot during season five with Sansa Stark, played by Sophie Turner, and Lord Petyr Baelish, also known as Littlefinger.

In the scene, the pair have arrived at Moat Cailin, a ruined collection of towers located on the Neck and subject to the rule of House Bolton.

It is here that Sansa learns that they are returning to Winterfell, where Littlefinger plans to marry her off to Ramsay Bolton, son of Roose Bolton, the current Warden of the North who conspired in the murder of her brother and mother.

The second sign, which is proposed for Shilnavogy Valley near Slemish, shows the location doubling as the Dothraki Sea, a vast area of grasslands in Essos which was screened in series one of the show.

The pictures show filming of a Dothraki village and Daenerys Targaryen, who has been sold into marriage to Khal Drogo by her ruthless brother,

Viserys and is now heading east to Vaes Dothrak.

The report due to be presented to councillors advises members that “there are tourism, PR and marketing opportunities in being associated with the Game of Thrones branding and international marketing campaigns.”

It states: “Game of Thrones is produced by Home Box Office (HBO) and has proven to be a worldwide phenomenon, with 18.4 m viewers, 1.8 m Twitter followers and 13 m Facebook fans.

“The show is hailed by Tourism NI as a showcase for Northern Ireland and as having a significant and positive effect on tourism.

“It is estimated that as many as 10 per cent of international visitors are influenced to choose their holiday destination by a positive perception of a location during on-screen viewing.

“Working with Northern Ireland Screen, who act as the liaison point for HBO, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been offered the opportunity to erect two signs at filming locations within the Borough.”

The report also reveals that the design of the signs are based on an approved HBO template and has been approved by Northern Ireland Screen on HBO’s behalf.

It recommends that members permit Officers to proceed with procurement and installation of the Game of Thrones signs and hints that future signs may be considered in additional filming locations “with appropriate permissions.”

It also states that the proposed location for the sign at Shillnavogy Valley will require consent from Roads Service as the preferred site is on DRD land, and that installing the sign to the DRD’s specifications may incur “some further costs.”