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Dunluce Castle Co Antrim Ireland

Dunluce Castle is sited dramatically close to the edge of a headland, along the North Antrim coast. Surrounded by jaw dropping coastal scenery, this medieval castle stands where an early Irish fort was once built and where its history can be traced back to early Christians and Vikings.

Dunluce Castle has a rich and varied history, connected with such names as Richard de Burgh, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, and Sir John Perrott, running up to its last occupant, Randall MacDonnell – the second Earl of Antrim.Other properties connected with Dunluce include Ballymagarry House and Glenarm Castle.

The History of Dunluce Castle

It is believed that the castle was built or (possibly) rebuilt by Richard de Burgh or one of his chief followers during the Anglo Norman period in Ireland.
It was lay seige to on several occassions during its long history, three examples were:

  • 1584 –  Queen Elizabeth dispatched Sir John Perrott (the Lord Deputy of Ireland) from Dublin with an  army to arrest Sorley Boy MacDonnell –  he lay siege to Dunluce on September 14th 1584 and on the third day the castle surrendered – Sorley had flown the nest before his arrival and evaded arrest.
  • 1641 – It was unsuccessfully besieged by an Irish army –  the village of Dunluce was destroyed but the castle held out under the command of a Captain Digby and was relieved by the Earl of Antrim in April of that year.
  • 1642 –  in July General Munro arrived with a thousand foot soldiers, two troops of cavalry and field guns, acting under the orders of the Marquis of Argyll (an enemy of the Earl) he arrested  and imprisoned the Earl in Carrickfergus, he also ransacked Dunluce and other castles belonging to the Earl.

The castle which has seen many additions to its original structure over the centuries gradually fell into disuse from the late 1600s’ when the last occupier, Randall MacDonnell,  the second Earl of Antrim moved  to Ballymagarry House
Close by is the ancient church ruins of St. Cuthbert’s named after a Northumbrian monk and the (possible) burial site of sailors and noblemen  from the Spanish Armada.  On a clear day you can look over an expanse of ocean from here to Donegal and round to Islay, a view  which has remained unchanged for centuries.

Dunluce Castle has a rich and varied history, connected with such names as Richard de Burgh, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, and Sir John Perrott, running up to its last occupant, Randall MacDonnell – the second Earl of Antrim.Other properties connected with Dunluce include Ballymagarry House and Glenarm Castle.

A village that once surrounded the castle was destroyed by fire during 1641, but some archaelogical remnants of walls remain. Also nearby are the ancient church ruins of St. Cuthbert’s, and the site was witness to the sinking of the colony ship the Exmouth, bound for Quebec, which broke up on rocks off Islay with 240 deaths in 1857.

For full touring itinerary, click here: Causeway Coastal Route Escorted Tour Itinerary

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