Let’s start 2017 out with a feel-good story. It’s no secret that Game of Thrones has pumped a lot of money into the economies of the places where it shoots. And because it spends so much time in Northern Ireland, perhaps no place has benefitted as much as that one. Sky News reports that the show has been of particular help to Forthill Farm in County Armagh, which was struggling before Game of Thrones came along and drafted some of farmer Kenny Gracey’s best assets into show business. “It has been a great asset and a great saviour for our farm,” Gracey said.
Any of the background animals, the chickens, the goats, the geese, the dogs for instance or the deer … I’m supplying those.
Gracey’s iron age pigs (a hybrid between a wild boar and a domestic pig) and other animals of his that have appeared on the show now have “a home for life.” In the hectic world of animal husbandry, it’s nice to have some security.
William Mulhall, meanwhile, supplied the show with Odin and Thor, two northern Inuit dogs who stood in for Summer and Grey Wind in the early seasons. “I got a phone call one day from the breeder, who had owned them, saying that some TV show wants to use my dogs in it,” Mulhall recalled. “And I asked her, ‘What’s the show about?’ And she says, ‘I dunno. Swords and shields and stuff.’ And I said, ‘Cool, I’m into that.'”
So I brought the dogs up to the breeder’s house where the trainers from Game of Thrones were and they had pictures and then that was it, that’s how it began.
Even though Grey Wind and Summer are now dead, people still come to visit Odin and Thor, keeping the Mulhall’s Direwolves Tours in business.
Even dead animals are getting a second life on the show. Taxidermist Ingrid Houwers dresses the set with props and costumes produced from animals that died ethically. “It gives them an extra life and rather than go to a museum where, although they still get admired, these certainly have more of a movie star kind of a life, where it does get used and obviously admired.”
I have seen things that go to the exhibition as well so they get an extra boost to show people what they’re used for and how they bring this fantasy world to life.
Head to Sky News for more, including a video with Odin and Thor.