To all the fans of the fascinating show; the Game of Thrones, gather here for an inexplicable tour. You definitely have heard that the show was filmed in Northern Ireland, but have you known where exactly? We are here to tell you about all the amazing places where our favorite scenes had taken place. If you are willing to have this incredible experience, put County Antrim as the top destination on your list. It is exactly where all the magic happened. Ballygally Beach and Ballygally Hotel are the secret places. Well, they are not actually secret, but we mean they are behind all the world of George RR Martins. You will enjoy your time there. Above and beyond, there are many greenery areas to enjoy along with forests and mountains.
THE WONDERFUL SCENES OF BALLYGALLY BEACH
Ballygally Beach is on the A2 Antrim Coast Road. The beach lies around 27 miles north of Belfast City and 4 miles north of Larne town. Beaches are characterized by the picturesque views they provide. On a side note, Ballygally Beach actually offers amazing views in all of its directions. The beach is actually long that it reaches around 200 meters. Along that distance, you can enjoy the amazing sand with boulders and seaweed. On the eastern side, you can enjoy the sea that extends too long where Scotland is just across it. However, on the western side, there are fascinating landmarks and Ballygally Head on the Southern side. Not to mention the Antrim Coast that extends northwards.
Facilities at Ballygally Beach
In Ballygally, you can find two public parks; the main one and a small one. While arriving there, you will need to choose one of those two options. You cannot just leave your car on the road; it is not permitted. Thus, the main park is opposite the entrance of the beach. However, the small park sits at the southern end of the bay.
You can take your children along while heading to Ballygally Beach. There is a Play park nearby; it is just across the road upon the end of the main park. Just so you know, there are toilets at that end of the park; you can freely use them. There are also clean toilets for people with disability and mothers with children.
If you happen to own a dog, you are allowed to take it from 11 in the morning to 6 pm. Taking the dog to the beach at any time outside the time frame will get you to pay a fine. However, those restrictions are applicable only in August, throughout the year, you are free to do whatever you want.
THE HISTORY OF BALLYGALLY HOTEL
Long before it became a hotel for tourists and guests, it was a castle that belonged to the Shaw family. In the 17th century, James Shaw of Scotland arrived in Ireland and rented a land from the Earl of Antrim. He demanded to build the castle where and his family resided for many years. Starting from 1641, the castle had endured several hits and blitz that left it in the wreckage. The ruthless attacks were carried out by the Irish garrison at Glenarm at that time.
Despite the repetitive assaults, the castle survived until this very day. However, what we see today is not the actual appearance of how it originally looked. That is not only because of the attacks and maintenance processes, but it also underwent renovations. The last Shaw member to own the castle was William Shaw. He sold it and, in the 50’s, Cyril Lord, a carpet tycoon, bought it. Lord extended the castle and refurbished it to actually look the way we see it today. Nowadays, it is no longer a private property. The Hastings Hotel Group are the owner and they run it as a hotel for tourists and guests to accommodate.
Location of Ballygally Hotel
In County Antrim, Northern Ireland, lies the beautiful castle known as Ballygally hotel. From the windows of the hotel, you get to see the sea and Ballygally Bay. Besides, it is only three miles away from Larne. Northern Ireland happens to possesses many beautiful buildings and structures. However, Ballygally Hotel happens to be the only one that dates back to the 17th century. While there are other buildings just as old, they are not quite significant, nor are they habitable.
The Most Reputed Haunted House
Throughout the years, Ballygally hotel has always been popular. It attracts people from everywhere around the four corners of the planet. Over and beyond, its popularity has skyrocketed during the past few years thanks to the Game of Thrones show. Despite its status as an ultimate tourist destination, it has the reputation of being a haunted house. It’s common that abandoned places are the ones for ghosts to reside in, but, apparently, this is a different case. Legends have it that ghosts have been living around the castles for very long years.
People claim that the ghosts are souls of people who were once residents of the castle themselves. One of the most active ghosts belong to the Shaw family, the original owners of the castle. Incidents, like knocking on doors and waking people up, were narrated by guests who stayed for a while. Also, the former manager of the hotel, Olga Henry, narrated some stories about him sensing those ghosts. However, he used to deny those supernatural things and the existence of ghosts and so. Obviously, something big must have happened to change his beliefs and put them into question.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS AROUND BALLYGALLY CASTLE
Ballygally Hotel is actually a fascinating destination itself. However, surrounding it, are even more astonishing attractions to visit. In fact, the hotel sits on the Causeway Coastal Route, overlooking the Irish Sea. Thus, its location is actually strategic; not only because it’s surrounded by many attractions, but also for the picturesque scenery. If you love walking, you will definitely fall in love with this place. Some of the important attractions lie within a walking distance if you reside in the hotel. So, let’s see what the world has to offer.
Old Bushmills Distillery
Are you aware of that brand that sells the fine whiskey bottles in Europe? It all started here; the Bushmills brand started in County Antrim close to Ballygally Hotel. The whiskey was made in the distillery present there, known as the Old Bushmills Distillery. If this whiskey happens to be among your favorite beverages, you should definitely pay this place a visit.
Long before the building became a distillery, it was a multi-purpose building when it first erected in 1608. It was almost a century or so later when a company bought the building and turned it into a distillery. Though the distillery only started in 1784, the label of the brand reads 1608. Some people believe that the date belongs to the first production of the drink. But, it is actually the year where the building came up. Anyhow, it was a very long time since the distillery started working for once again. It has been through a lot, including the fire that wore it away in 1885. A few years after that flame was put down, the distillery started operating for once more and for good.
Thought that Ballygally Hotel is the only castle around the area? Nah, you thought wrong. There is another prominent castle that you should totally pay a visit to, Carrickfergus Castle. It’s a Norman Irish Castle that’s name derives from Carraig Fergus, meaning a sturdy man. The castle served an important role in the military for long years. No wonder it survived to this very day, the building’s quite strong despite being as old as the medieval era.
Thanks to John de Courcy, he built that strong structure that stood up for long years since 1177. His objective was to make it as his headquarters after which he became a rule for around 30 years. However, Hugh de Lacy, a Norman Voyager, expatriated John de Courcy in 1204. Long before the vast land reclamation, waters used to surround most of the castle. However, it now surrounds fewer parts of the castle, yet most of it.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
We know the name looks terrifying when your eyes first fall, but it is quite simple. The locals of Northern Ireland pronounce it as carrick-a-reedy. Besides, the name means rock of the castings. Actually, it is a famous bridge; rope bridge and it sits near Ballintoy in County Antrim. The role of the bridge is to link between the small island of Carrickarede and the mainland. In fact, the National Trust is the owner of this bridge that happens to be a tourist attraction. It attracts a great number of visitors on an annual basis. People pay a fee to cross the bridge at almost any time throughout the year. However, it may be unavailable at times of bad weather.
Are you wondering what people actually do at that bridge? Well, the area around had eccentric scenes of natural beauty to behold, including plants and flora. Under the bridge, you can find large caves where boat builders used to reside in.
Glens of Antrim
They are actually valleys that the locals simply refer to as The Glens; another area of natural beauty. This region involves nine glens, or valleys, that go all the way from the Antrim Plateau to the coast. There is even a song, known as Ireland’s Call, where the singer mentions the Glens. In the past, there used to be a lordship of these glens. It first belonged to the Bissett family, they were Scottish-Irish Norman, in the mid-13th century. Later, the ownership transferred to the MacDonnells of Antrim.
On the north coast of Northern Ireland, you can find the Giant’s Causeway. It lies around three miles away from the town of Bushmills. Some legends claim that the causeway is a result of an ancient eruption volcanic fraction. However, you can listen to different stories about the formation of the Giant’s Causeway. There was a different opinion regarding how it was built in the Irish mythology in the Legend of Finn MacCool. Moreover, in 1986, the UNESCO announced the Giant’s Causeway as a World Heritage Site. Those declarations did not stop here. In fact, the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland declared it as a national nature reserve in 1987. In 2005, it won the title of the 4th greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.
At the Causeway Center, you will find more than a few facilities to enjoy. On top is the Tourist Information Office that can help you will all of your inquiries. They also offer services of booking accommodation. For a nice shopping before heading home, you can go to Souvenir Shop or the National Trust Shop. There are also Tea Rooms to enjoy; however, you need to learn about their opening times. You can also take the bus that the Causeway Coaster offers. It can take you from the center to the Causeway and back.
The Giant’s Causeway in the Irish Mythology
In the Irish mythology, the Giant’s Causeway was mentioned in many legends. The most significant one was the Legend of Finn MacCool. In fact, MacCool is a giant warrior and one of the most prominent ones in the mythology of Gaelic Ireland. He was the leader of a group of warriors that the mythology refers to as the Fianna. Since there were so many supernatural creatures, it was okay to portray Finn MacCool as an enormous one. His height was around 54 foot and it is said that he is the builder of the Giant’s Causeway.
The Legend of Finn MacCool and the Giant’s Causeway
That story supposedly took place on the Antrim Coast. Finn resided in that area for many years alongside his beautiful wife, Oonagh. They enjoyed a peaceful as well as a happy life together. However, it was not so long when that all started to fade away after learning about Benandonner. In the Scottish mythology, Benandonner is the rival of Finn MacCool. He lived across the sea and used to offend MacCool, stealing away his peace of mind. When MacCool’s anger reached its peak, he got violent, thus, he took a handful of mud and threw it. Hoping the scope of mud would hit Benandonner on the other side, it desperately landed in the Irish Sea. As an enormous creature, the clog was significantly huge, for that, it formed Lough Neagh.
Finn MacCool had taken enough of Benandonner’s constant insult, so he challenged him to properly fight man to man. Since they were quite apart, Finn MacCool built the huge bridge that linked him to the other side. It was the Giant Causeway; he used huge stones to erect it and be able to get to Scotland. After building the Giant’s Causeway, Finn MacCool prepared himself to fight Benandonner. Halfway through the bridge, Finn realized what he was getting himself into. Despite how massive he was, Benandonner was even huger. Finn was terrified upon seeing Benandonner, thus he backed off and ran back home, losing one of his boots.
Oonagh Helping Finn MacCool Defeat Benandonner
After being terrified, Finn thought that hiding should be his next step. As soon as he got home, he told his wife about what he saw. She decided to help him hide; however, she thought that disguising was a better option. Thus, she told him to pretend to be a baby and sleep in a huge cradle. That way, Benandonner would not know where Finn could easily be. Thanks to Oonagh, the plan worked perfectly. Benandonner caught sight of the cradle and thought it was a child and the surprise was too big to swallow. Thinking to himself, if the baby is that big, how enormous could the father be? Thus, he decided to save himself the trouble and flee back.
A GAME OF THRONES AND BALLYGALLY HOTEL
Are you curious to learn about all the places where Game of Thrones was filmed? We are here to take you on that fascinating tour. In fact, there are more than ten places to visit and see where the amazing scenes took place. One more thing to know, the cast of our favorite show stayed in Ballygally Hotel during filming their show. There are even scenes that happened inside the hotel itself. Let’s see the wonderful places that Northern Ireland has to offer.
Ballintoy Harbour is a village found on the coast of Antrim. It is around an hour or so of driving away from Ballygally Hotel. You should definitely head there when staying at the hotel. You can find it down the hill of Knocksaughey. This harbor was featured in the second season of the show as home to Theon Greyjoy.
Binevenagh Steep Cliffs
Binevenagh is found in County Londonderry. It is not that far away from Ballygally Hotel, but it is still in a different county. The place contains a plateau and steep cliffs that extend six miles. Binevenagh was actually the Dothraki Grasslands in the show. It was that place where Daenerys was running away and Dragon saved her.
Audley’s Field and Audley’s Castle
Audley is actually the name of a Norman family that arrived in Northern Ireland back in 1210. The Audley’s Castle that sits in County Down was named after them. It is one of the most prominent castles in Northern Ireland. Next, to that magnificent castle, you can find Audley’s Field and they both made an appearance in the GoT show. The Castle played a role in hiding the army of Robb Stark and prepping up for the Lannisters. Besides, the field next to it was the ground where the Battle of Oxcross and the Red Wedding took place.
Apparently, County Antrim seems to possess more than a few harbors. While Ballintoy Harbour is actually the most significant, Carnlough is as scenic, in fact. The best part is that it is only a few minutes away from Ballygally Hotel. You can actually drive to that harbor in around fifteen minutes. Here is what you are going to find there. The harbor has a magnificent stone staircase that leads downwards into the sea. Remember that scene when Ayra was crawling up the stairs after being stabbed? It happened on those staircases.
A castle that goes way back to the 16th century. It used to belong to the Ward family, apparently. The castle is only a few miles away from the Audley’s Castle. Besides, it overlooks Strangford Lough, the biggest inlet in the British Isles. You can also see 820-acre gardens and woodland that surround the castle. Around the castle and the gardens, there are walls surrounding them. Within these walls was the formation of the world of Westeros. The castle itself was Winterfell, home of the House Stark.
Dark Hedges in Stranocum in County Antrim
If you are staying Ballygally Hotel, one day, get in your car. Drive for one hour till you get to the Dark Hedges. It is an eccentric avenue where you can enjoy the beauty of the nature and take the best pictures. Thanks to the Stuart Family, they were the ones to plant the trees in that area in the 18th century. This avenue was the Kingsroad where Arya traveled in a cart with the Night’s Watch new recruits in Season Two.
Check out this amazing 360-degree video experience of Ballygally Beach and Ballygally Hotel.