Game of Thrones: Why three-eyed ravens are flocking to Northern Ireland
HBO is hugely protective of Game of Thrones props. So why have they suddenly started appearing around Northern Ireland?
It's not every day you see three-eyed ravens at Belfast City Hall.
But then, it's not every day you see swords and daggers deposited in a special "sharp objects" bin at Belfast City Airport. Or dragon eggs for sale at St. George's Market.
What's going on?
A game, as it transpires. Specifically, a Game of Thrones.
Capitalising on the popularity of the smash-hit series, much of which is filmed in Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland has partnered with HBO to stage a series of social media-friendly stunts based around its locations.
The idea is to let several props from the series loose in the real world and get the online chatter going with a view to celebrating the show and its filming locations.
The latest stunt takes place in Belfast today, with a "flock" of three-eyed, animatronic ravens descending on Belfast City Hall.
Animatronic crows at City Hall, Belfast
Previously, we have seen old-fashioned wooden signs pointing the way to the Iron Islands and other Westeros locations, near to where filming took place in Northern Ireland, as well as "true-to-scale" giant’s footprints on Portstewart Strand (see gallery above).
Swords, daggers and maces have been deposited in a special ‘sharp objects bin’ at Belfast City Airport, and Targaryen-farmed dragon eggs were even placed on sale in St George’s Market for the price of 125 Gold Dragons.
One of the eggs was remote controlled and proceeded to rattle and wobble... much to the surprise of shoppers.
Tourism Ireland is the third largest tourism board in the world on Facebook (after Australia and the US), with almost three million fans; and the second largest on Twitter (after VisitBritain), with more than 270,000 followers.
"Fans will see these ads, spiking their curiosity about the landscapes and locations featured in the series and inspiring them to come and explore them for themselves,” explained Niall Gibbons, its CEO.
More stunts are planned as Series 5 of the fantasy show continues.