Belfast, Northern Ireland, has long since attracted filmmakers from all over the world with its lush landscapes that serve as the perfect backdrop for their cinematic creations.
Northern Ireland offers countless stunning locations, from beautiful coastlines to idyllic villages, mountains, glens, and loughs, as well as bustling cities with diverse architectural styles.
Across the years, many writers have been inspired by the country’s stunning backdrops, some have added them to their works and consequently, the same locations were used to portray their writings when it was time to adapt them for the big screen.
The Magical Land of Narnia inspired by Northern Ireland
CS Lewis, the creator of the world of Narnia that is still loved by many all around the world was born in Belfast. So, it is natural that he drew inspiration from his birthplace and incorporated it into his writings. The city even established a CS Lewis Trail to commemorate his greatest works.
His most renowned work is the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven fantasy novels that are considered a staple of children’s literature. The series has since been adapted for radio, television, the stage, and film.
The plot of the series centers on four children who are evacuated to the countryside to escape the war, much as many children had been during WWII.
He weaved the fictional work of Narnia, filled with mythical beasts and talking animals, where four children are magically transported to Narnia and are called upon by the lion Aslan to save the realm from evil and restore the throne to its rightful owners.
The Narnia Trail was established in Rostrevor to commemorate this great work of fiction. You can start it from Kilbroney Forest in Rostrevor, where you’ll find several features bringing the world of Narnia to life.
Among the stops on the trail are monuments dedicated to the Tree People, the Beavers’ House, and the Citadels, among others.
Visit CS Lewis Square
Also in Belfast, you’ll find the CS Lewis Square, with seven monuments based on the characters from the first novel in the series: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, including Aslan, The White Witch, Maugrim, The Robin, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, The Stone Table, and Mr. Tumnus, all of which were created by Irish artist Maurice Harron.
Belfast hosts many other locations inspired by the author’s prolific life and career, such as the C.S. Lewis Reading Room at Queen’s University Belfast, the Lamppost Café in east Belfast, and Campbell College which Lewis attended and where he drew inspiration to create the famous Narnia lamppost.
Experience the Real Winterfell across the Lush Landscapes of Northern Ireland
When George R.R. Martin took the world by storm with his novels, the Song of Ice and Fire series, which were later adapted into the widely successful TV series Game of Thrones, it was revealed how much he drew inspiration from real locations and events.
One of the key locations in the novels and the 2011 TV series is Winterfell, a northern keep that served as the Stark family’s home throughout the show, which was filmed in Belfast. Many of the scenes at Winterfell were filmed in Castle Ward, located in Strangford in Northern Ireland where you can now go on themed tours through the castle grounds, including a recreated archery range like the one used by some of the characters in the earlier seasons of the show.
Many locations across Northern Ireland were used in the show, including Dunluce Castle and Ballintoy Harbour as the Iron Islands, the home of the Greyjoys. Filming also took place in the northern forests at Tollymore Forest Park, near the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. There, you may come across the familiar locations where Ned Stark and his sons found the direwolves, where Theon Greyjoy is chased by Ramsay Snow, and where Sansa and Theon hid from Ramsay Snow.
Explore the World of Game of Thrones inside the Real Locations
If you’ve watched the show, then you must also be familiar with Castle Black and the region ‘Beyond the Wall’. You can visit the area in real life at Magheramorne Quarry, located near Larne in Northern Ireland. The small fishing town was transformed for the epic scene in Hardhome, in which Jon and the Wildlings face off against the vicious White Walkers. The location was also used to film scenes featuring Castle Black and the Battle of Blackwater.
Among the many different locations in Northern Ireland used in the show are the Dark Hedges along Bregagh Road in Armoy (as King’s Road) and the Caves at Cushendun in County Antrim (where Lady Melisandre gives birth to a “shadow” that kills Renly Baratheon).
Other than the real-life locations, Northern Ireland also has some of the best studios in the world, where several fan-favourite scenes, such as the Red Wedding were filmed, including Belfast’s Titanic Studios.
Jonathan Swift’s Land of the Lilliput in Gulliver’s Travels
Jonathan Swift’s timeless 18th-century novel about an Englishman, who takes a voyage to the imaginary lands of the Lilliputians, Brobdingnagians, Laputans, and Houyhnhnms, has cemented itself as one of the classics of English literature.
Considered by many as a satire and social commentary of the political life at the time, Gulliver’s Travels was very much inspired by the real lives of the English and Irish people in the 18th century, as well as the royal court.
The main themes in Gulliver’s travels focused on the state of the European government and the differences between religions. He also posed the question of whether people are inherently corrupt or they become corrupted.
Where can you see Lilliput?
The term Lilliput, which later became used to refer to anything small and delicate, the places where Swift spent most of his time have found different ways to honor the great novelist and his prominent work.
In the city of Armagh, you can visit the Saint Patrick’s Trian Visitor Complex exhibitions to learn more about the history of Armagh, from its ancient history to the arrival of St Patrick and beyond. You can also explore The Land of the Lilliput, where Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is narrated by a 20-foot giant. The exhibit also features huge models of Gulliver and tiny Lilliputians to complete the experience.
Swift has also been said to have been inspired by many Northern Irish landscapes, such as the Mourne Mountains and Cavehill which he believed to resemble the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the city.
Northern Ireland has always inspired writers and filmmakers to create their best works and it has never failed to commemorate their efforts and make sure that future generations will not soon forget their masterpieces.
If you wish to visit some or all of these fantastic locations but feel that the language barrier may hinder your travel experience, the International House family aims to facilitate your language learning process through its partner organizations across the UK and Ireland, including in Galway, Manchester, Portsmouth and Bristol to help you reach your desired goal and master the English language.