How Game Of Thrones Changed This Farmer’s Life
An Irish farm that was left struggling after the Global Financial Crisis has found his feet again, largely thanks to the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.
While people all around the world will go to extreme lengths to get their hands on series five episodes as they air, paying for subscriptions to services like Foxtel or risking fines for illegal downloads, for Forthill Farm’s Kenny and Jennifer Gracey, the series is a lot more than entertainment. It saved their bacon – literally.
The Gracey’s farm is home to the herds of pigs seen in Game of Thrones, along with the sheep, hens and a couple of other farmyard animals, plus much of the “ancient” farmyard equipment that adds to the atmosphere of the show. Kenny Gracey says involvement with Game of Thrones has helped keep is farming dreams alive following the fallout of the GFC.
“Game Of Thrones has put me on the map,” he says in an interview with The Daily Mail.
The farm has a history dating back to the 1700s and, in its modern form, is focused on providing top quality free range pork and beef, according to the Facebook page.
“With freedom to roam in open spaces outside our animals can obtain minerals from the soil ensuring the highest quality free range pork and free range beef is produced,” it says.
“Our aim is to educate our customers on the healthier natural way to produce free range pork and free range beef and also provide them with an affordable way to feed their family with real meat, as nature intended.”
Noble goals, to be sure, but as many farmers and small business owners would know, it’s hard to stay afloat when people’s purse-strings tighten (or when the world basically goes broke).
Back in 2010 Gracey actually wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep the business going much longer. So when he got a call “out of the blue” from a props buyer, he just saw it as a way to get rid of some of the scraps lying around the place.
“My wife Jennifer had told me to have a clear-out and get the stuff to a junk yard,” he recalls.
“That afternoon I got the Game Of Thrones enquiry and two days later I sent a lorry load to the set.”
What evolved from there was a five-plus year relationship between Gracey, his animals and the Game of Thrones production team. He’s even got to be on set as an extra when the animals need more hands-on support.
Gracey’s work as an animal handler has also helped him build up a relationship with Northern Ireland Screen, and the farm’s Facebook page says the animals can also be seen in films and series including Dracula, Blandings Dani’s Castle and Your Highness.
He says the film side of things, especially his work with Game of Thrones, has helped the entire business thrive.
“It has funded the preservation of my rare and speciality breeds. I could not afford to keep all the animals I have commercially so it’s been a godsend,” he says.