Abandoned ireland


Dunluce Castle,

Co. Antrim.

Documenting our Heritage

Dunluce translates from the Irish "Dun Lios" as the Hill fort of the fairy fort.

Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster built the first castle at Dunluce in the 13th Century. By 1513 the area was under the control of the MacQuillins and later, became home to the chief of the Clan MacDonnell of Antrim and the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg, Scotland.

In 1584 the English forced Sorley Boy MacDonnell and his clan to flee after battering the castle with artillery, however Sorley received inside help and regained his castle by having men hauled up the rock face in a basket.

In 1588 peace with the English was achieved and James the first made Sorely’s son Randall Earl of Antrim.

On October the 28th, 1588 the Spanish Armada ship 'The Girona' after experiencing rudder damage, was blown by gale force winds towards the north coast. The power of 224 rowers didn't prevent the ship striking Lacada Point. Of the estimated 1200 men on board it is said only three survived who received shelter from Sorley Boy MacDonnell at Dunluce. Canons from the wrecked ship were installed in the gatehouses of the castle, the rest of the cargo was sold with funds being used by Sorley Boy’s son, Randall MacDonnell to restore the castle and build a manor house inside the castle walls.

In 1639 part of the castle kitchen collapsed into the sea as some of the cliff face gave way. It is said of the staff of the kitchen only the kitchen boy survived as he was sitting in the very corner of the kitchen. The other staff all fell to their deaths. After being shocked by this incident, Randall MacDonnell's wife the former Lady Katherine Manners returned to London and remained there.

Dunluce Castle served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until The Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the MacDonnell’s after backing King James lost their home and wealth and the castle was abandoned.

Dunluce Castle is now preserved by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency


Co. Antrim.