Following the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones®, the award-winning HBO® series, which will be broadcast on OCS in April 2019, Tourism Ireland’s much-vaunted Game of Thrones® Tapestry will make its maiden voyage to Bayeux in Normandy, north-western France, home of the world-famous 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry. There, the Game of Thrones® Tapestry will be exhibited from September 2019, alongside its historic counterpart, which was a key source of inspiration for its newest neighbour.
A large number of the scenes in Game of Thrones® – the most-watched television series in the world – were filmed in Northern Ireland. The adventures and landscapes captured on screen have been preserved in a gigantic, multi award-winning tapestry – 80 metres or over 250 feet in length – designed by Tourism Ireland, woven from linen supplied by one of the last surviving linen mills in Northern Ireland and hand-embroidered by a team at National Museums NI.
Following the long-awaited worldwide release in April 2019, scenes from the final episodes of season eight will be added to the hand-crafted masterpiece. As the Game of Thrones® saga comes to a close, the tapestry will begin its own adventure; from the Ulster Museum in Belfast where it has been on display since July 2017, to the Norman city of Bayeux.
“The tapestry has been hugely successful”, said Finola O'Mahony, Head of Europe at Tourism Ireland. “It has attracted visitors from all over the world to Northern Ireland and has been seen by around 150,000 visitors to the Ulster Museum. From Winterfell to the Iron Islands, the dramatic local landscapes that have brought this mysterious fantasy land to life are wonderfully illustrated on this unique work of art.”
In September 2019, the historic Hôtel du Doyen in the centre of Bayeux will welcome its ‘cousin from Northern Ireland’, where it will be exhibited until December 2019. The two tapestries will be within walking distance of each other, and for Patrick Gomont, Mayor of Bayeux, the choice of venue was both natural and symbolic: "This vast 18th-century building and former residence of the Dean of the Cathedral was home to the Bayeux Tapestry just after the Second World War. The tapestry was exhibited there until 1982, when it was transferred to the old seminary, where it is still housed today.”
Tourism Ireland, National Museums NI and the City of Bayeux are pleased to announce their partnership that will both promote Northern Ireland as Game of Thrones® territory in France and elsewhere around the world and will increase awareness of the historic and cultural significance of the Bayeux Tapestry, an endless source of fascination for historians and the public alike, over 900 years after it was made.
Finola O’Mahony explains that "Tourism Ireland has been working hard to build awareness of Northern Ireland around the world, highlighting our connection with Game of Thrones® to fans everywhere. It has been a privilege to work with HBO, Tourism NI, the Ulster Museum and our partners in Northern Ireland, to promote Northern Ireland as "Game of Thrones® Territory. I am confident that the epic journey our Game of Thrones® Tapestry is about to embark upon will inspire French fans – as well as those further afield - to visit Northern Ireland.”
Antoine Verney, Head of Conservation at the Museums of Bayeux, is delighted to see the Bayeux Tapestry in the limelight: "This exhibition gives us the opportunity to showcase our near millennium-old tapestry to a new audience, and we are really looking forward to doing just that. The fact that our tapestry continues to be referred to in popular culture – of which the Game of Thrones® Tapestry is only one example – is further evidence of the timelessness of the Bayeux Tapestry.”
The close proximity of the tapestries will also symbolise the strong links between France and the island of Ireland, the past and the present, the real and the fantasy.
According to Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, “Whilst on display in the Ulster Museum the tapestry allowed us tell the fascinating stories of our rich heritage and local traditions of textile manufacture and embroidery and showcase some of our collections and their contemporary relevance. The tapestry was loved by visitors and it has become an important part of our collections. We are delighted to partner with Tourism Ireland on this project and to share some of our objects with Bayeux. This loan highlights the centuries-old links between Normandy and Ireland, ranging from the shipping to textile industries, through to the arts and crafts and most importantly our shared linen heritage.”
Without a doubt, a new adventure of epic proportions awaits this ‘two’-of-a-kind tapestry!
For a virtual tour of the tapestry itself, take a look at the Tourism Ireland website and its interactive web app "Northern Ireland - Tapestry Game of Thrones®", which allows you to zoom in on the minutiae of detail.