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Cong reigns again as stars shoot TV series

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Mary, played by Adelaide Kane, and Prince Francis, played by Toby Regbo from the TV drama series ‘Reign’ which was filmed in Ireland.

Mary, played by Adelaide Kane, and Prince Francis, played by Toby Regbo from the TV drama series ‘Reign’ which was filmed in Ireland.

Mary, played by Adelaide Kane, and Prince Francis, played by Toby Regbo from the TV drama series ‘Reign’ which was filmed in Ireland.

Lately, it seems as if castles, kings, knights and dragons are all back with a vengeance, thrilling TV viewers everywhere. One such programme is Reign, a historically based show focusing on the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Much of Reign has been filmed in the village of Cong, Co. Mayo, where sites like the beautifully picturesque Ashford Castle have provided the backdrop. A cast and crew of over 100 descended on the town last year - Cong resident Ray McHugh described it as "a big boost for the local economy" with warehouses being rented for storage, GAA pitches used as a base for costumes and make-up, not to mention money being spent by the crew. "All the local businesses were very happy with the boost".

Cong is already famous as the backdrop for the John Ford classic The Quiet Man and Ashford Castle itself is no stranger to the limelight, having featured prominently in the flick, not to mention hosting the wedding of former James Bond and Remington Steele star Pierce Brosnan and wife Keely Shaye Smith.

It has also housed a whole series of prominent figures over the years, including King George V, John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, President Ronald Reagan, and Senator Ted Kennedy.

Torrance Coombs, one of the leads on Reign, spent much of his time on location tweeting pictures of the beautiful Mayo landscape and the grounds at Ashford Castle, which the cast and crew recently returned to whilst filming scenes for the second season.

Of his time here, Torrance said, "I always love working back in Ireland. It's like a second home . . . Beautiful woods location today. Even if the midges were out in full force biting my face off . . . amazing time in Ireland".

With a People's Choice award already under its belt, the second season of Reign is due to premiere in early October and with shows like Reign, Game of Thrones, The Tudors, Camelot. and films like Braveheart, King Arthur and The Princess Bride, all filming on our little island, it's clear that Hollywood's love affair with Ireland is still going strong.

The TV show Game of Thrones, which is heading for a fifth season, has helped blaze a trail for a return to the world of kings and castles, having won almost 100 industry prizes, including Emmys, Baftas, Screen Actors Guild awards and a Golden Globe. Much of Thrones has been filmed in Ireland. The Mourne Mountains, for example, have appeared prominently in the show, as have several castles in Co.Antrim such as the 18th-Century Castle Ward, which, on the show, becomes 'Castle Winterfell', home to the show's principal characters. Thanks to its captivating plot lines, not to mention the stellar cast, Thrones is probably the biggest show in the world right now.

With lots more shows in this vein almost certainly on the horizon, and with Irish scenery proving to be a go-to for these productions, we can expect the arrival of many more film crews for the coming years.

Hail to the King!

Sunday Independent