Being an account of my arrival to Belfast and how I scouted the filming locations on the northern coast prior to the Con.
“Ease into it …” says Littlefinger in the infamous scene. So that’s what we’ll do here – bombarding you with the awesomeness that was TitanCon straightaway would be too much of a shock. I flew in to Belfast on Thursday evening, my second ever visit to Northern Ireland, third to the Emerald Isle overall. After settling in at the hotel and having a bottom-supporting dinner, @sirintugbay and Hear Me Roar headed out into the streets of Belfast to find the watering hole where the early birds were gathering. The adventure ended in a success, the detour past the Belfast cathedral notwithstanding. Slightly cold, we arrived at the pub for a meet and greet with the organizers, headed by MountainGoat, as well as TheRabbit, JacMac, Sam, Pod, and others, who had been discussing volunteer duties. Unfortunately we were too late to catch Joe (Campo), but we made up for that at TitanCon proper, so no regrets there.
The next day, on Friday, we took up the kind and generous offer of Lord Two Feathers, a commenter on WiC and an extra on the show, to take us and TheRabbit for a car trip to see the northern parts of the country and of course visit some of the filming locations. We drove past the Paint Hall, just in case we could see any activity, but it was all quiet. The weather cooperated quite nicely, though we didn’t get any sun as we wound our way up the coastal causeway route. First GoT stop, Magheramorne quarry. Or rather, the high ground across the lough from where we could hope to get a look at it. In the photo below you can just discern the new set, whose massive walls most likely represent
Harrenhal or Storm’s End. We’ll see in April.
On the way north, Lord Two Feathers told us we were passing the Redhall estate used in the Inn at the Crossroads scenes. It is a completely private estate surrounded by woods, though, so there was nothing to see. The picturesque location of the caves at Cushendun was a different matter. The shore strewn with kelp and seaweed flooded at hightide puts one in the mind of Iron Islands, while the caves could well be the ones below Storm’s End (even if the sea does not reach them).
We continued to the Ballintoy area with several places of interest. The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is located right next to village of Ballintoy, and while we do not have any confirmation about it being used on the show, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the scenery and at least use it as the basis of a CGI longshot or two. Just look at the photo below and tell me you cannot imagine Pyke right there? At the other side of the bay is the small stone quarry where they shot the Renly camp scenes, and we saw the site where the ill-fated marquee stood. All tidied up now, of course, but the sand of the melee square was still on the ground, as well as some charcoals from the fire pits. It felt really cool to stand on the actual spot where we are going to meet Brienne.
To wrap up, we descended to the harbour and checked out the location of Theon’s homecoming. Without a doubt, the location scouts found just the right place which should look amazing on screen. On one side there is the stone harbour we saw dressed up in Nordic style in the photos, while on the other side the shoreline is wilder, and to our information they used that site for a scene with Theon and a priest of the Drowned God.
Being to all these places is going to make it even more exciting to wait for the new season and see the locations transformed into the lands of Westeros. We owe a really big thanks to LTF, as well as his wife who packed us lunch, which definitely saved the day at Ballintoy! Follow this link to see the full gallery of photos we made during the trip.
UPDATE: Lord Two Feathers recorded three videos on our trip! Don’t miss them.
On returning to Belfast, @sirintugbay and me joined the walking tour of the city led by the TitanCon organizer Bruce. The event was part of the Belfast Culture Night and so non-Con people joined as well. Needless to say, we spread the word of the convention and of Game of Thrones being shot in Northern Ireland at every oportunity. We had some time after the tour to grab a quick bite and enjoy some other cultural events before joining the crowd at McHugh’s, the venue of the first Belfast moot, where the TitanCon guests Ian McDonald, Paedar Ó Guilín, and T.A. Moore were reading excerpts from their novels. The evening served as a warm-up before TitanCon on Saturday and good time was had by everyone, memories of the first moot were shared, and the slight nervous excitement before the big day that could be felt in the air added a spicy tinge to the atmosphere. The hour was running late – and then it happened. Finally, after all the years, I got to meet the man. He entered the room and the air went out. FaBio had arrived …
Your are hereby invited to read our complete coverage of TitanCon.
Fire And Blood accepts your challenge.
Prelude to a Comment: So this is what really happened. the FaBuloso FaBihoff arrived in Belfast Northern Ireland (apparently unrelated to Southern Ireland, which is a drink I once tried) via air-carrier Continental, which is clearly more than continental yet still not quite Continental as it is now also United… without being wholly united. If that makes sense. Outside my outsized hotel, the Fitzwilliam (which really sounds like the name of an English butler), I almost immediately encountered three other Game of Throne-ie cronies, whose names were something in the proximity of Alia (or Aliah, or Allia, or Alli, who is not to be confused with my wife), Jorge (or George, or Whore-hay, who immediately recognized me as being FaBulous, and is also not to be confused with my wife), and Myranda (or Myra, or Randa, or Randi, who is also also not to be confused with my wife). There was also a guy named Angus (or it may have been Anguy, or Argus, who absolutely no one confused with my wife) who said he knew me but I think was actually just panhandling. A generally-McHugh’s-ish direction was wandered, and people may / may not have gotten lost. And it may / may not have been my fault. Not all of us made it to McHugh’s. And not all of us who made it to McHugh’s made it to the basement of McHugh’s. But that’s a longer and stranger story.
Continuing where Hear Me Roar left off in a single paragraph: FaBihoff led an (admittedly smaller) contingent into the basement of McHugh’s, there to meet, drink mead (I had the awesome Belfast equivalent of an orange Fanta), and do battle with people I had known online for many years but had only glimpsed in pictures. Or some I had never glimpsed in pictures, nor had ever really heard of, but who were very willing to do battle indeed. JackieMacMackity started the barroom brawl, sending an empty flagon of Zima into the unsuspecting jaw of @sirintugbay (not to be confused with HmR’s wife), who responded by delivering a high kick into the solar plexus of an unsuspecting Rabbit (also not to be confused with HmR’s wife, though they do seem suspiciously close), who immediately fell unconscious, or was just drunk. SilverJaime (who is my wife) leapt onto the table and, for no apparent reason, head-butted Sam (or Sami, or Samanthahhh, or HOLY SCH—), who responded by picking up the table and throwing it at Ser Mountain Goat (or Ser Mountain Goat), who was busy trying to organize badges and gamely took one on the chin. All the while Myra was bellowing “Myra Smash!” with Hulk-like enthusiasm, pummeling the three dudes (one who had a very interesting and sexy beard) at the far end of the table with her unloosened iron brassiere. So much more happened after that, including eating cheddar-topped pizza (which we blamed on Pod), and debating whether or not a foam-covered Julia Frey was sexier than a dry Richard Madden. Sporre may / may not have been there. Dennai was possibly there, or that may have been a Fanta-inspired hallucination. Hear Me Roar was most certainly there, twiddling his fingers evilly and using mind-control to influence the action. He is truly demonic. I ended the night in bed with Nick, or “that really cool guy who wound up appearing in all the pictures of last year’s moot.” I think. Irish Fanta really leaves me woozy. It’s really a pity this had to be kept to a single paragraph.
This goes to show you that if you do not go to next year’s TITANCON, you really miss an awful lot of the truth. Next year you all need to be there—the night before the event.
If not, blame Pod.