Dunluce is probably one of the most dramatically located Northern Irish castles built on a basalt headland dropping straight into the ocean.
Located less than five miles from Giant’s Causeway, it is well worth a visit. And while there, you will also want to look over the treacherous Lacada point, the place of the famous disaster of the Girona as well as the tragedy of the Exmouth shipwreck.
History of the Dunluce Castle
It is believed that the castle was built in the 13th century by Richard De Burgh when Ulster was ruled by the Anglo-Normans. However, some kind of fortifications probably existed even before. In the 16th century it was part of the property of the MacDonell’s of Antrim and later the MacDonalds of Scotland, and back to the MacDonells.
Medieval castle life would not have been easy here. From the Atlantic ocean blow fierce winds, and winters can be harsh. The castle itself is not in the most accessible of positions and on cold dreary winter nights it might have felt lonely.
In 1643 during a severe storm part of the castle kitchen fell into the sea, the only kitchen occupant surviving being a little boy who was sitting in a corner.
The Duchess Catherine Manners, resident lady of the castle, never liked Dunluce Castle and used the collapsed kitchen as an opportunity to press for moving residence away from the rock to the mainland. The castle was eventually abandoned and slowly fell into disrepair with material from it taken to facilitate construction of other buildings in the area. It is currently in the care of the Northern Ireland Department of Environment.
Our Visit to Dunluce Castle
Our visit was short and to the point. We enjoyed the tremendous views but to tell you the truth, the story of the kitchen falling into the sea, gave me a knot on the stomach. Legend has it, that there was a wedding celebration going on when the disaster stroke, which makes all the more tragic.
The castle is open daily and there is a small charge for admission. Toilet facilities are available and there is a small tourist office. Guided tours are available on request.
Allocate about an hour for the visit, unless you are passionate about history in which case you might want to take longer. The castle is in ruins, but the dramatic location makes visit more than worthwhile.
Lacada point is a rock promontory that juts into the ocean a few hundred yards west of Giant’s Causeway. It is typical or the rugged yet beautiful North Antrim Coast, but became the scene of the Girona tragedy that resulted in great loss of life.
Read about the Girona shipwreck and her treasure here! Fancy some more castle ruins? Here are some on your way:
Dunseverick Castle – It stood for ages – since the 5th century- but the waves brought it down. Ruins in a dramatic setting.
Kinbane Castle – Somebody loved the sea. Another Castle ruin that belonged to the powerful MacDonnell clan. Photo credits: photo no.4 courtesy of Dwight Peck. Photo no.5, courtesy of Elisabeth and Teije. Many thanks!
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