Winter is coming to Westeros and Essos, but the forecast in Northern Ireland is looking bright.
As far as historians are aware, Northern Ireland has never had to contend with dragons, white walkers, or seasons that last for years on end (unless … maybe that explains why it’s always raining there?).
But Northern Ireland
has seen its fair share of conflict and turmoil, to the point where a major period of the 20th century in Ireland (from 1968-1998) is actually known as “The Troubles.” And, unfortunately, that kind of prolonged unrest can leave a devastating mark on the economy.
However, things are looking up, thanks in part to a little book-series-turned-hit-TV-show called “Game of Thrones.”
Ingrid Houwers and her array of pretty dead things. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.
Ronan Hill is a sound mixer on “Game of Thrones” and I’m sure you can imagine how the Emmy displayed in his Northern Irish home will make it even easier for him to get jobs in the future. He’s also up for another award this year. (The show has 24 total Emmy nominations this year alone.)
The success of artists like Houwers and Hill also affects the tourist industry and of course, more people visiting Northern Ireland means jobs for people in Northern Ireland. Just look at how the tourism rate in New Zealand has doubled (making it the country’s second largest industry) in the 15 years since the first “Lord of the Rings” film was released.
This influx of tourism is a regular economic stimulus for people like William Fells, a sword and
archery instructor who plays Jon Snow on tours of Castle Ward, the real-life Winterfell, and for Damian Carr, an actor and sword expert who has appeared as an extra on the hit show.
When Carr first started working at Game of Thrones tours, the tours were only running once a week. But five years later, they’re a full-time and fully-booked business.
So while I can’t alleviate your concerns about George R.R. Martin killing off your favorite character (again), I can assure you that, at least in Northern Ireland, things behind-the-scenes are looking better than ever.
Just, uh, if you visit, be sure to tip your tour guide.
William Kells interacts with tourists at Castle Ward, also known as Winterfell. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.