Tollymore Forest Park, Bryansford, Co. Down

The spectacular scenery of Tollymore Forest Park is heavily featured in Game Of Thrones and remains mostly unchanged from what greeted the US Army in 1942.

Tollymore Forest Park

Bryansford Road

Newcastle

Co. Down

BT33 0PR

United Kingdom

The picturesque Tollymore Forest Park in Bryansford, Co. Down covers an area of some 600 hectares. The forest occupies a hillside near the town of Newcastle at the foot of the Mourne Mountains. Features of the 18th Century estate include spectacular ancient redwoods and Gothic stone arches.

There are many well-maintained walking trails throughout the forest park. The terrain is often uneven and challenging. A walk through the park offers scenic views of the Mourne Mountains and the Shimna River.

Tollymore Forest Park includes many garden follies such as a barn styled as a church. Entrances feature impressive gates and pillars designed by Thomas Wright of Durham. Most follies including the famous Hermitage were for Lord Clanbrassil who owned Tollymore in the 1700s.

Postcard of Tollymore Forest Park

An old postcard showing the Foley Bridge spanning the River Shimna in the grounds of Tollymore Forest Park, Bryansford, Co. Down. Postcard supplied by Robin Abbott, believe to date from circa 1905. Copyright unknown.

Tollymore on TV

In the hit HBO television show, Game Of Thrones, Tollymore Forest Park features as The Haunted Forest in Westeros. The beautiful Altavaddy Bridge is recognisable by fans of the show. In season one, it’s from the forest that the White Walkers begin their march into the realm of men. Three men of the Night’s Watch encounter the first of the White Walkers.

Viewers may also remember Ramsay Snow – the “Bastard of Bolton” – hunting Theon Grevjoys through the woods. The Starks discovered the young Direwolves here too and it’s within the woods of Tollymore, that Ned Stark also finds the dead stag in a memorable scene.

Wartime Tollymore

For much of the 19th and early 20th Century, Tollymore Park belonged to the Roden family. In 1930, it was partly sold to the Department of Agriculture for afforestation. The department purchased the rest of the site in 1941. The early 1940s brought many changes to Northern Ireland and an influx of US Army units to Co. Down.

Billets for 5th Infantry Division US Army dotted much of South Down. Officers stayed in the now demolished Bryansford House and the premises held dinner dances.

American Forces

The following American forces were based in Bryansford House, Co. Down between 1942 and 1944. If you have more information, please get in touch.

Start DateEnd DateUnits
11th June 194231st October 194247th Armored Medical Battalion, 1st Armored Division
15th February 194410th July 19445th Infantry Division Headquarters
4th May 19443rd Platoon, Company F, 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanised)
26th May 194430th June 1944General Assignment Unit 12, 166th Signal Photographic Company
12th June 19444th July 1944General Assignment Unit 6, 166th Signal Photographic Company
5th Signal Company, 5th Infantry Division
Postcard of Bryansford House

A postcard dating from around 1905 showing the old manor house at Bryansford, Co. Down. American troops were based here in the 1940s. Postcard supplied by Robin Abbott. Copyright unknown.

The Haunted Forest

Several American military men observed the ghost of ‘The Blue Lady’ on the grand staircase. Legend says the spectre is searching for her husband and now wanders the forest since the 1952 demolition of the Roden family home.

And in this Park the Roden Home where the eagle used to soar but now the house has tumbled down and the Blue Lady haunts no more. Beneath the oak and copper beech, the stag hid from his foe for the huntsman with his hounds did ride where the Shimna Waters flow.

From ‘Where the Shimna Waters Flow’ by Alexander Taylor.

There may not be much World War Two history left to show in Tollymore Forest Park, but it’s a beautiful place to visit. Be sure to enjoy the spectacular scenery as seen in Game of Thrones and unchanged from what would have greeted the GIs in the 1940s.