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The Doors of Northern Ireland: Ballygally Castle Hotel & the Dark Horse

The final stops on the tour of the Doors of Northern Ireland, alas!

Ballygally Castle is a terrific place, situated on the beautiful Antrim coast and featuring one of the oldest still-used buildings in Northern Ireland. Its garden was a real pleasure, and made us wonder a bit about how palm trees could grow in Northern Ireland (answer appears to be that prevailing ocean currents make Northern Ireland somewhat more temperate than the equally-northern reaches of the Nordic countries). We were warmly greeted and found that there was a large wedding reception going on, but that didn’t phase anyone as we were smoothly led to the dining room (it may have helped that our waitress recognized us from Thronecast!) We were treated to their menu for the Game of Thrones banquet they do, though with a variation: their Westeros-inspired tomahawk steaks were served as the main. Never had that cut before, and certainly never with that amazing presentation of a long, long rib bone jutting out. Absolutely delicious!

Belfast saw the unveiling of the final door at the Dark Horse pub, and this was quite the party with over a 150 people packed into the bar and spilling into the courtyard outside where fans could meet Odin and Thor, two of the dogs that were the direwolf puppies at the start of season 1 (they were Grey Wind and Summer, specifically). Their owners happen to have been extras on the show as well, and run Direwolf Tours in association with the Winterfell Tours based out of Castle Ward and its demense. Really handsome dogs, I have to say.

That’s more-or-less the end of our adventures in Northern Ireland, but as you’ll see in the video embedded above, we have a couple more videos planned thanks to our visit. One will be a video about the gorgeous Antrim coast (we’re both quite fond of beautiful coastlines!) but using that to springboard into a discussion of the coasts of Westeros (yep, ASoIaF geekery is coming), and one will be about our visit to Steensons jeweller’s store/workshop in Glenarm where we met Brona Steenson and her husband Dan Spencer who not only make beautiful jewelry, but specifically have made a number of the jewelry props for Game of Thrones (including Cersei’s latest crown!)

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