Ireland has a long and rich history that is equal measures prosperity and conflict – and a huge part of that history is intertwined with the Vikings and their civilization.
It is no wonder then that the hit TV series “Vikings”, which chronicles the life and times of the mythical Viking leader Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons, has become so popular in Ireland – and it has also left its mark on the country.
The Viking part of Ireland
The Viking invasions that began in the 700s, and the subsequent Norse rule over the settlements they established on Irish soil, have deeply influenced the history and the financial and trading development of Ireland, and particularly Dublin. Eager to connect to their Viking past, the Irish have always been fascinated by the Viking saga – and the Viking Dublin exhibition in Dublinia, a historical recreation museum, is a testament to that.
When History Channel first launched the popular series back in 2013, the Irish audience was more or less a sure bet. But, what was unexpected, was the huge popularity it gained because it was also filmed in Irish locations across the country – and it also took on many Irish extras. As the show evolved and its battle scenes became bigger, it found itself in need of more and more locals to act as Viking warriors or innocent raid victims, which has provided a way for Irish people to bond, not only with the story but also with the show’s production.
How "Vikings" Celebrated the Irish Landscape
It’s no exaggeration to say that the choice to film the series in the stunning Irish countryside was genius. From Wicklow to the Guinness Lake, all the iconic locations of the Viking saga are found on Irish soil. River Boyne in County Meath served as the setting for the Paris siege, while many other scenes, where the Vikings sail on their long ships to discover new lands, are set at the Blessington Lakes in Wicklow. Lough Tay looks eerily familiar now that it has doubled as Kattegat - Ragnar’s hometown on the show - and the stunning Nuns Beach in Kerry was selected to film the scenes set in British Northumbria. Ireland has been the setting of historical TV shows and movies before, but this time it was different: the show relied heavily on the magnificent scenery to propel the plot forward and immerse the viewers into the world of Ragnar, Athelstan and King Ecbert.
The immense popularity of "Vikings"
Viking pagan rituals, cunning battle strategies, and bloody raids were all tied in with the background – which celebrated Ireland’s nature. The Irish loved the show, not just because it was a daring and engaging portrayal of the Viking era, but also because it introduced Ireland once again to the world. And it sure did, as more and more viewers were drawn to the show, which has already been renewed for a Season 6. “Vikings” became so insanely popular that it inspired a wide range of fan merch and spin-offs: From the usual t-shirts and mugs to a Seer Funko POP! figure and a “Vikings” online slot game by developer NetEnt that is very popular across free spins casinos, complete with a Shield Wall feature and Raid Spins. The show keeps rising in demand among many countries, with viewership in the middle of Season 5 rising 25% compared to last year’s numbers.
A historical series that portrays the brutal world of the Viking raids yet never fails to convey the humanity and frailty of our predecessors, all while celebrating Ireland’s beauty – what is not to love?