Ten years since Game of Thrones first aired and put Northern Ireland on the map

Next week marks 10 years since Game of Thrones first captivated audiences in living rooms around the world, making TV history and putting the north of Ireland on the map in the process.

By Brendan McDaid
Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 4:07 pm

The first episode of the first series of the show aired on April 17, 2011 and introduced characters with strange sounding names like Tyrion and Cersei Lannister, Eddard, Catelyn, Sansa and Arya Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Varys, Littlefinger, Daenerys Targaryan and Jon Snow, all of whom would go on to become household names along with the actors who played them.

The show’s home base, main studios and outdoor filming locations were in Belfast and across Northern Ireland showcasing the dramatic and diverse landscapes everywhere from County Antrim to County Derry before a global audience.

The HBO series also sparked a revolution in, and brought global attention to, the talented film industry on the island of Ireland, where Vikings, Line of Duty, Derry Girls and many other hit shows and films have also been filmed.

2013: The then First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at a launch of 'Game of Thrones' in Hollywood Boulevard with actor Peter Dinklage who played Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.......Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Game of Thrones was adapted from George R R Martin’s groundbreaking and epic A Song of Ice and Fire seven book series of novels, the first of which is named A Game of Thrones.

It also shot many local actors to stardom such as County Derry actress Michelle Farley, who played Catelyn Stark, Donegal actor Art Parkinson, who played her youngest son Rickon Stark, Ballycastle’s Conleth Hill (Varys), Lisburn’s Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion) and Belfast’s Ian McElhinney (Ser Barristan Selmy, and also Grand Joe in Derry Girls).

The show charted the stories of many of Martin’s point of view characters through their escapades, trials and tribulations as he charted them in his first novel and subsequent novels A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons. In latter seasons however the show overtook the book series, and the final episode of Season 8 aired on Sky Atlantic two years ago next week on April 19, 2019.

The sixth instalment in A Song of Ice and Fire book series, titled The Winds of Winter, is expected to be published over the next few years, followed by the final novel A Dream of Spring.

The first episode introduced us to the Stark family.

Over its long run, Game of Thrones has held millions in thrall every week, and the forthcoming HBO production House of the Dragon is likely to be just as successful, charting as it will the Targaryen ancestors of Daenerys who reigned over Westeros for centuries before her ow father, the Mad King.

Casting for House of the Dragon has already begun and HBO has confirmed that the cast will include Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Rhys Ifans and Sonoya Mizuno.

For more information on the new series see: www.hbo.com/house-of-the-dragon

2013: The then First Minister Peter Robinson; actor Emilia Clarke who played Daenerys Targaryen; Richard Plepler, Chief Executive of HBO and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.......Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye