THE popular medieval fantasy television series ‘Game of Thrones’ is being filmed in the grounds of the former Ballievey linen mill outside Banbridge.
The location is one of several in Northern Ireland which have been transformed into temporary film sets - cameras have also been rolling in Gosford Castle in Marktehill and Ballintoy Harbour in County Antrim.
Filming started in July and will run through until December for the second series of ‘Game of Thrones’ which has been commissioned by US broadcaster HBO.
The Ballievey set features a huge wooden boat and a mock-up of what appears to be the interior of a castle set amongst the picturesque rural landscape of the Corbet.
Many locals were surprised at the film set operating on their doorstep, although the site is now secure as filming gets underway.
One resident, who lives nearby, said he had noticed a number of lorries and trucks passing by with loads of unusual equipment but hadn’t realised there was a film set just ‘around the corner’.
“Apart from the traffic, you wouldn’t know anything was happening,” he said. “Things have been very quiet and it’s just life as normal for local people.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same story in Ballintoy, where some residents and business people complained that access to the village had been cut off.
Bosses for the fantasy epic made a £7,500 donation to improve village infrastructure and provided remuneration for some businesses and fishermen, but others claim they have been left out of pocket due to a ‘Road closed’ sign which was erected at the top of Harbour Road.
Overall, it is not yet clear how much the Northern Ireland economy has benefitted, but the Government has estimated a figure of £20m.
The first series was filmed mostly on huge set at Belfast’s Paint Hall Studio in the Titanic Quarter, with outside locations including Shane’s Castle, Antrim; Castle Ward at Strangford, Co. Down, and Tollymore Forest Park outside Newcastle.
It began showing on Sky Atlantic in April this year and such was its popularity that filming began three months later on a the second dramatisation of the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series of novels by George RR Martin.