Sir Jack Gleeson of the Rebel County: A view of the Irish actors in Game of Thrones (may contain spoilers)

Game of Thrones has been a show that has made nerds cool again and introduced HBO with a new profitable show when Boardwalk Empire is on hiatus. However the show has helped to recognise the talent of Ireland and Northern Ireland as well shooting some of the show in a Belfast studio and across the north. To celebrate to the return of the show on Sunday in the US and Monday in the British Isles, here is a list of the actors who have portrayed characters in Game of Thrones that are from the Emerald Isle.

Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson): The main antagonist of the show and King of the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, young Joffrey has committed acts so heinous that audience members can’t wait to see who kills him.

He is played by Corkman Jack Gleeson who is no stranger to film as he plays a more sympathetic character in Batman Begins. However once Gleason is done with ruling people with an iron fist on screen, he plans on following a different path having graduated from Trinity College.  The following clip of Jack Gleeson describing Joffrey and his many challenges from his many adversaries to the straining relationship he is having with his mother Cersei.

Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley): Widow to fallen hero Ned Stark and Lady of the town of Winterfell, Catelyn aids her son Robb in the war for Joffrey’s throne despite a difference of approach towards certain issues.

She is played by Michelle Fairley from Ballycastle who has frequently appeared on screen. Credits include E4’s Misfits where she plays Nathan’s mother, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where she was Hermione’s mother.

Cat Stark

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aiden Gillen): Littlefinger is the charming yet manipulative master of the coin (treasurer) of the Seven Kingdoms who helped to imprison Ned Stark despite promising Catelyn that he would protect him.

He is played by Aiden Gillen who is no stranger to HBO or portraying a villain as he has played Mayor Tommy Carcetti in The Wire and in RTE’s Love/Hate, he played the spiteful crime boss John Boy Power. Below Gillen talks about Littlefinger’s crush on Catelyn Stark and calm demeanour towards the war.

Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds): The Wildling “King beyond the Wall”, Rayder is making an actual appearance in season three despite being mentioned previously by characters as a treacherous traitor. Once a member of Westeros’ protectors known as The Knight’s Watch, Rayder has other plans that result in tension between his new and former groups.

While Trinity College alumnus Dominic West turned down the part, Belfast’s own Ciaran Hinds accepted it as another credit to his already impressive CV. Hinds has appeared in big films like There Will Be Blood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Munich and The Road to Perdition However, Irish people may best know him as John Traynor in Veronica Guerin.


Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham): Also known as the Onion Knight, the ex-smuggler has become the loyal general to the army of Joffrey’s uncle, Stannis Baratheon. Davos’ only concern for Stannis is his trust in mystic priestess Melisandre who promises Stannis victory against all the other armies.

He is played by Dublin’s Liam Cunningham, another Irish veteran who has decades of work under his belt. Some of his famous works include The Guard, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Hunger and Clash of the Titans. An avid fan of the show before playing Davos, Cunningham in the interview describes how he feels about joining a big budget TV series and how Davos got his nickname.

Roose Bolton: A bannerman for the Stark family, Bolton has advised Robb on certain issues as the war reaches closer to Winterfell.  Bolton is calm in a crisis but can be callous when he needs to be.

He played by Michael McElhatton who has appeared in films like Intermission and Shadow Dancer but would be to Irish fans as failed musician Rats in the RTE show Paths to Freedom and the spin off movie Spin The Bottle.

roose bolton

Yoren: After the execution of Ned Stark, it was Yoren that helped Ned’s daughter Arya escape from Joffrey’s clutches. He was going to lead her back to Winterfell but an ambush by Tywin Lannister led to the end of Yoren’s journey and a new chapter in Arya’s.

He is played by Dublin’s Francis Magee who kids know as Victor Rodenmaar in Nickelodeon’s House of Anubis and adults knew him Clare Bates’ biological father Liam Tyler in Eastenders.  While both these characters are men of dishonour, Yoren sees Magee playing a man who priorities honour and respect. Below is the oath that Yoren and other members of the Knight’s Watch take voving to not have land, women or children.

Honourable mentions:

Hodor (Kristian Nairn): The dim-witted yet friendly giant of Winterfell who protects the remaining Stark children from the dangers the war has presented. He is played by Northern Irish actor Kristian Nairn who at 6“11 is already a giant in reality. Nairn will also be appearing in Ripper Street with Game of Thrones co-stars Jerome Flynn (Tyrion’s sell sword, Bronn) and Clive Russell (new character and Catelyn’s uncle Brynden “Blackfish” Tully).


Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer): Also known as the Lighting Lord, Beric Dondarrion leads the Brotherhood without Banners, a band of vigilantes that are at war with raiders of the Riverlands which was where Catelyn Stark was born.

Armagh’s Richard Dormer takes on the role of this mysterious outlaw. He has been in various Northern Irish films including Good Vibrations which earned him an IFTA nomination this year and Five Minutes of Heaven staring fellow Northern Irish actors James Nesbitt and Liam Nesson. Below is a casting call of Season 3’s new characters including Dormer. It should be noted that Hinds is exempt from this call as given that he’s a character of high regard to fans of the novel and was announced at a later date.

While his cameo role has yet to be revealed, Bangour’s own Gary Lightbody will also be appearing on the show. As a member of Snow Patrol and with Coldplay’s Will Champion also making a cameo, perhaps the two will play bards in Westeros’ capital King’s Landing.  Lightbody was so excited he tweeted this picture to all of his followers.

Gary Lightbody


1 Comment

  1. You left out Conleth Hill who plays Lord Varys and is a major character and Art Parkinson who plays Ned Starks youngest son!!

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