Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle


Location: County Antrim Map

Constructed: 13th century


Description of Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle (Dún Libhse in Gaelic) is a striking manor in a state of ruin located on the cliffs of the northern Antrim coast in Northern Ireland. It was constructed in 13th century by Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster. It was built on a basalt surface overlooking the sea, not far from the towns of Portballintrae and Portrush. Dunluce Castle is protected by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, a public agency that deals with the defense and conservation of Northern Ireland artistic and environmental assets.


In the 13th century Richard Óg de Burgh, second Earl of Ulster, built the first castle in Dunluce. It was simply two towers of 9 meters in diameter. Towards the end of the 13th century, the McQuillan family took control of the Dunluce area and the castle until, after losing two great battles against the MacDonald clan, they gave the latter control over the region.

Later Dunluce Castle became the home of the head of the MacDonnell clan of Antrim, allied with a new line of MacDonald from Dunnyveg, Scotland. In 1584, with the death of James MacDonald, the sixth head of the MacDonald clan of Antrim and Dunnyveg, the Antrim valleys were occupied by Sorley Boy MacDonnell, one of his younger brothers. Sorley Boy took over the castle and restored it according to the typical Scottish style. Among other things, Sorley Boy swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth I, and this allowed his son Randal to be named then first Earl of Antrim by King James I.

Four years later, the Girona galleon of the Spanish navy sank due to a storm in the water in front of the castle. The MacDonnell seized the boat's cannon and sold the cargo from the sea to pay for the castle's renovation.

Dunluce was home of the counts of Antrim until the impoverishment of the MacDonnell family, which reached its peak in 1690, as a consequence of the Battle of Boyne. During the MacDonnell domain, part of the castle kitchen collapsed into the sea. According to a legend, only one kitchen present in the room survived the incident, because the corner of the room where he was sitting was the only one not to fall into the water. The owner's wife refused to live in the structure and from that moment on Dunluce castle was abandoned and many of its parts were looted to build other buildings nearby.