Dunluce Castle sit majestically on a baslat outcropping that towers some 100 feet above the sea. Although now a ruin, Dunluce remains a popular attraction along Northern Ireland's Antrim Coast.
The first castle on this site was built by Richard Og de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, in the 1200s. However, the castle that we see today was built by the MacQuillan family around 1500.
Subsequently, in 1567. Dunluce was seized by Sorely Boy MacDonnell who swore allegiance to Elizabeth I of England. His son Randal was made 1st Earl of Antrim by Elizabeth's successor James I.
When one of the galleys from the Spanish Armada wrecked nearby, its cargo and fittings provided Sorely Boy the funds to restore the castle. He also took the cannons from the wreck and mounted them in the castle thus making it an even stronger defensive position.
The MacDonnells founded the town of Dunluce adjacent to the castle in 1608. Archaeological finds suggest that it was prosperous and cosmopolitan. However, it was destroyed in 1642 during an unsuccessful attack on the castle by Scottish forces.
Dunluce continued as the seat of the Earls of Antrim until the 1690s. The MacDonnells made the mistake of supporting King James II who was defeated by William III at the Battle of the Boyne. Thereafter, the MacDonnells became impoverished and let the castle become derelict.
Local legend has it that during a severe storm, one of the walls of the residence collapsed and fell into the sea. After that, the lady of the castle refused to live there any longer.
With its romantic setting, it is not surprising that Dunluce has featured in the arts. It is mentioned in poems and songs and is said to be the inspiration for Cair Pavarel in C.S. Lewis' Narnia series. The castle has also been used as a setting in several films and television series including Game of Thrones.
The castle is now under the care of the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency. Visitors can wander the site or take a guided tour.
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Cruise destination Ireland - Northern Ireland - Dunluce Castle