Dunluce Castle in Bushmills is one the most beautiful ruins I have seen, to date. The site overlooks the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. We drove to Dunluce after lunch at the Bushmills Tavern and a morning at the Giants Causeway.
Dunluce is a World Heritage site which makes it easy to find and well documented. There is parking on site and a fee to enter. The hours are from 10AM to 5PM daily. There are facilities are to the right and the gift shop and tickets to your left. To navigate the area there are plaques, a guide available at the ticket booth and app that uses cgi to show how the castle looked in the 16th and 17th centuries. I also found that it was the site for Pyke Castle of House Greyjoy on Pyke Island in Game of Thrones.
I was enthralled by how much of the castle is left after years of abandonment, scavenging materials for the building other structures in the village, time and, the elements. At one point part of the manor feel into the waters below after some of the cliff disintegrated. There are spots that are caged off to serve as a warning as to the dangerous position of the castle. Dunluce sit high on cliff looking over the Antrim Coast. The view is breathtaking. There is a sweeping panoramic vista of the coast line that rivals the Cliff of Moher. It is wild and untamed with ruins fading into the landscape. The pictures speak for themselves.
This is a must see if you near Bushmills and the Giants Causeway.
History (wikipedia brief)
In the 13th century, Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, built the first castle at Dunluce.
It is first documented in the hands of the McQuillan family in 1513. The earliest features of the castle are two large drum towers about 9 metres (30 ft) in diameter on the eastern side, both relics of a stronghold built here by the McQuillans after they became lords of the Route.
The McQuillans were the Lords of Route from the late 13th century until they were displaced by the MacDonnell after losing two major battles against them during the mid- and late-16th century.The castle in the last decade of the 19th century
Later Dunluce Castle became the home of the chief of the Clan MacDonnell of Antrim and the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg from Scotland. Chief John Mor MacDonald was the second son of Good John of Islay, Lord of the Isles, 6th chief of Clan Donald in Scotland. John Mor MacDonald l was born through John of Islay’s second marriage to Princess Margaret Stewart, daughter of King Robert II of Scotland. In 1584, on the death of James MacDonald the 6th chief of the Clan MacDonald of Antrim and Dunnyveg, the Antrim Glens were seized by Sorley Boy MacDonnell, one of his younger brothers. Sorley Boy took the castle, keeping it for himself and improving it in the Scottish style. Sorley Boy swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth I and his son Randal was made 1st Earl of Antrim by King James I.
Four years later, the Girona, a galleass from the Spanish Armada, was wrecked in a storm on the rocks nearby. The cannons from the ship were installed in the gatehouses and the rest of the cargo sold, the funds being used to restore the castle. MacDonnell’s granddaughter Rose was born in the castle in 1613.
A local legend states that at one point, part of the kitchen next to the cliff face collapsed into the sea, after which the wife of the owner refused to live in the castle any longer. According to a legend, when the kitchen fell into the sea, only a kitchen boy survived, as he was sitting in the corner of the kitchen which did not collapse. However, the kitchen is still intact and next to the manor house. You can still see the oven, fireplace and entry ways into it. It wasn’t until some time in the 18th century that the north wall of the residence building collapsed into the sea. The east, west and south walls still stand.
Dunluce Castle served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until the impoverishment of the MacDonnells in 1690, following the Battle of the Boyne. Since that time, the castle has deteriorated and parts were scavenged to serve as materials for nearby buildings.