Tile Films’ new documentary series ‘Invasion: The Normans’ explores Ireland’s real-life Game of Thrones – the Anglo-Norman invasion. Airs on RTÉ ONE, Sunday 2nd June at 18.30.

Episode 1 – RTÉ One at 6.30pm, Sunday 2nd June.
Episode 2 – RTÉ One at 6.30pm, Sunday 9th June.

Ireland, 850 years ago. Like a real-life Game of Thrones, the country was torn apart by a war between rival kings. In 1166, two of these power players drove Diarmait MacMurrough, the king of Leinster, into exile. Diarmait sought help from Henry II, the king of England, and his vassal Strongbow, and soon their invading armies landed in Wexford and Waterford. These dramatic events, familiar to many of us, explain not only how England came to rule Ireland, but also how it became the country we know today. And yet, the story of the Anglo-Norman invasion has never been properly told onscreen – until now.

Invasion: The Normans, a 2 x 1 hour RTÉ documentary series, dramatically explores these events through a combination of stunning location footage, atmospheric drama re-enactments and exciting science and archaeology. Narrated by leading Irish actor Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones, The Last Duel), the series is filmed in 4K UHD at spectacular locations in Ireland, Britain and France. The drama re-enactments vividly recreate medieval Ireland and Europe, from the opulent court of Henry II in 1166 to besieged civilians in Dublin in 1171. They also include gritty and realistic battle sequences depicting conflict between the Irish and the Anglo-Norman invaders. Expert commentary, archaeology and scientific analysis add context to the compelling historical narrative.

The series offers fascinating fresh perspectives on the invasion. It features new archaeological discoveries in Dublin, Ferns (County Wexford) and Trim (County Meath), revealing the stories of civilians caught in the crossfire, as well as the very first foreigners to settle in Ireland following the invasion. The invasion transformed Ireland in everything from language to agriculture to the county system, and expert contributors offer exciting new insights on these changes. The documentary also explores the oft-overlooked French connection. Although the invaders came from Britain, many had links to Normandy in France, spoke French and had French names, hence the term Anglo-Normans. Finally, the invasion had a major impact on politics in the wider world, as resources from Ireland fuelled wars between England and France.

Contributors include Dr Michael Potterton (Maynooth University), Dr Sparky Booker (Dublin City University), Professor Seán Duffy (Trinity College Dublin), Professor Clare Downham (University of Liverpool), Maeve Tobin (IAC Archaeology), Dr Colin Veach (Hull University) and Finola O’Carroll (Blackfriary Archaeology Field School).

Invasion: The Normans is produced by Tile Films Limited with the support of RTÉ, Tourism Ireland, and Section 481, Ireland’s Film Corporation Tax Credit. International distribution is by Off the Fence. The series is written and directed by David Ryan and produced by award winning filmmaker, Stephen Rooke on behalf of Tile Films. Executive Producers for RTÉ are Sally Roden and Colm O’Callaghan. 

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