Game of Thrones trees to be cut down for safety reasons

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent





Six trees from the Northern Ireland road known as the Dark Hedges are to be cut down because branches risk falling on Game of Thrones tourists and other visitors. Contractors sealed off Bregagh Road in Armoy, County Antrim, yesterday to prepare the felling of at least six ancient beeches deemed a risk to public safety. Northern Ireland’s department of infrastructure said: “This decision has not been made lightly and whilst the amenity value afforded by the corridor of trees is acknowledged, the safety of road users is paramount.” The beeches were planted about 250 years ago to give a sweeping entrance to the Gracehill House estate. The typical life expectancy of such trees is 150 to 200 years. A survey in June found that 11 of the 86 trees that lined the route were in poor condition and required urgent attention. In addition to the six that will be cut down, four will receive remedial work and the condition of one other will be assessed. The tangle of branches was made famous by the HBO series Game of Thrones, which used it as a stand in for part of the Kingsroad. Northern Ireland has used the site and other locations from the programme to entice fans from around the world, with coach tours running from Dublin and Belfast airports. Mervyn Storey, a councillor for Ballymoney, said the work would balance safety and the Dark Hedges’ aesthetic appeal. “Combined with better traffic management this should allow the site to be loved and appreciated for many more years.”