Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland

Located on the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland, not far from the Giants Causeway, are the ruins of Dunluce Castle.
Dunluce Castle has been a site of historic battles, a movie (Jackie Chan’s – The Medallion) and a tragic fable. Despite all this, the magnificent views alone are enough reason to make Dunluce a stop on your visit.Setting 100 feet above the ocean on a panicle of basalt rock, and isolated from the coast by a 20-foot chasm, Dunluce Castle must have looked very formidable to its attackers. Some of the Castle remains at Dunluce may date back to the 1200s’ AD but much of the Castle was built after that time. At the end of the 1500s’ and through the 1600s’, extensive additions were made to its fortifications and residential quarters.

Photo Right – a view of the ruins from one of Dunluce’s’ towers.

It is thought Richard de Burgh may have ordered the construction of the first Dunluce castle. What is known, is the Castle was taken in battle around 1565 by ‘Sorley Boy Mac Donnell’ (some times the Irish record refers to him as ‘Yellow Charlie’).


Sorley Boy Mac Donnell was a Scottish chieftain, who from Dunluce, controlled the northeastern coast of Ireland. Apparently, the English were none too happy with this particular Scottish incursion in to northern Ireland as in 1584 Queen Elizabeth orders Sir John Perrott to take the castle. After intensive battle the castle falls, and Sorley Boy flees. In a little bit of irony, Perrott appoints (unknown to him) a confederate of Sorley Boy to select troops to garrison the castle. As soon as Perrott leaves, Sorley Boy retakes the castle with ease. In the end, Sorley Boy bows to Elizabeth and swears his allegiance to the English Kingdom.

Photo above: The ruins on the main land date primarily from the 1600’s AD, after the part of the castle falls in to the ocean.
More pages on Dunluce Castle:
will be forthcoming
Outside Links:

Dunluce Parish provides a lot of information on the MacDonnell family.

Eventually, Sorley Boys’ son Randal inherits the castle from his father and becomes the Earl of Antrin.

More pages on Northern Island

Dunluce Castle
.Mount Stewart

Old Bushmills’ Distillery
Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

The Fable (or is it?): Many years ago, I recall reading of a castle on the north coast of Ireland with a tragic tale. A wedding party gathered for celebration in the keep of an old castle. Outside the thick walls of the castle, raged a mighty storm. Then suddenly, part of the castle falls in to the ocean taking with it the kitchen and some of the wedding guests.

In 1639, during the time of Randal McDonald, the kitchen of Dunluce castle did fall in to the sea taking with it the cooking staff. The rest of the above story I cannot find a reference to; or perhaps the story was embellished to entertain the tourist.

Prior to 1641, as demonstrated by the number of gravestones at the churchyard, there was a prosperous village around the castle. Primarily composed of Scottish, the village member quickly fled back to Scotland on the arrival of an Irish army. The army laid waste to the village but the castle stood firm. It was not until a year later (1642) when General Munro arrested the Earl during a ‘friendly’ visit, did the castle actually fall.