Think about the ruins of a magnificent castle standing proudly on the highly steep edges of a gigantic cliff… Pair that with a stunning panoramic view over the ocean, and then you will know what you are about to experience while visiting Dunluce Castle.
For sure, this idyllic picture creates an atmosphere that encourages dreams, and you will soon find your imagination go wild and build a rich world of legends and tales around such a fortress. And, who knows, maybe ghosts could be your companion during your tour …
The origins of Dunluce Castle date back the 13th century. By that time, Richard Og de Burgh orders the construction of the first version of the castle. Built on the edge of a cliff, which represents a strategic place, the role of the edifice was to guard the ocean and to monitor every boat on approach.
Strong but basic, yet unfortunately very low documented, the first building was to go through a lot of changes over the following centuries.
It is only in 1513, when the castle passes through the hands of the McQuillan family, that Dunluce Castle starts to look as it still does today. The fortress is thus enriched with two great towers, allowing a 360 degrees view over the surroundings.
The McQuillans continues to occupy the castle until the 16th century, precisely until they get displaced by the clan McDonald of Antrim and Dunnyveg from Scotland, after losing a decisive battle against them. The head of the clan then decides to make of Dunluce Castle his personal residence and improves the stronghold.
On the chief’s death in 1584, the English, under the command of Sorley Bob MacDonnell, seized the castle, after which they decided to strengthen even more the fortifications. The castle thus gradually changes style until it finally embraces the features of a typical Scottish castle.
In 1588, a ship named “The Girona”, belonging to the “Invincible Armada”, sinks right below the cliff. It is therefore decided to salvage the cannons from the wreck so as to arm the fortress. The rest of the cargo is sold and used to rebuild Dunluce castle.
Though, the trick proved to be insufficient afterwards. Indeed, in 1639, the castle got caught in a dramatic storm. Some parts of the stronghold collapsed down the cliff and tumbled into the sea, causing loads of ruins and remains, as well as a great human loss: Numbers of employees thus died in the fall of the building. (According to the legend, the only survivor of the event was a kitchen boy who was sitting at the only corner of the kitchen which did not collapse when it occurred).
Given the scale of the tragedy, the owners of Dunluce decided to abandon the place, considering the area as too dangerous to live in.
Since then, Dunluce Castle has remained completely deserted, and left to be gnawed away by the effects of time and corrosion caused by salted sea air. It has today become a highly touristic area drawing crowds from all over the world.
Dunluce castle is open to the public all year long. You will have to cross a bridge to get there and discover the ruins that have bravely resisted to the ravages of time.
Window to the past, the castle stands among the greatest treasures of cultural and historical heritage of Northern Ireland.
Nowadays, a few ramparts, some turrets and other rooms are still standing. You can visit them from inside as well as from outside so as to admire the architecture.
Don’t miss the cannons positioned inside the walls of the castle : they come from “The Girona”, a Spanish warship that sank in 1588 nearby the Irish coasts.
Under the cliff stands a cave, which was used to be a secret hideout for boats… The cave is also open for visits at additional charge.
Last but not least, please note that Dunluce castle played host to the shooting of both “Game of Thrones” (you may indeed recognize the fortress as Greyjoy’s home), and “Narnia”.
Allow yourself some time to visit the surroundings (no less than an hour), considering the magnificence of the castle, its stunning views over the ocean, and its history that will capture your imagination.
daily, 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last tickets accepted at 3.30 p.m.)
Duration: 45 minutes
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