Dunluce Castle lies between the village of Portballintrae and the town of Portrush, in County Antrim, in Northern Ireland.
Dunluce Castle stands on a promontory that is practically an island, connected to the mainland only by a stone, formerly wooden, bridge. Underneath the castle rock a cave cuts right through from the sea to the landward side. A formidable strong location.
Before the castle was built this cliff was occupied by a stone fort. Dunluce Castle was built around 1300 by Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster. The only parts of that castle to survive are a section of the wall facing the mainland and 2 of the round towers.
The rest of the ruins we see today are from a grand fortified manor house built in the late 1500's by the MacDonnell's who where owners of the castle since the early part of that century.
In 1556 the notorious Sorley Boy MacDonnell inherited the castle. In 1584 the castle was taken by Lord Deputy Sir John Perrot in 1584 but was returned by Queen Elizabeth to Sorley Boy 2 years later. In 1588 a galleass from the Spanish Armada sank nearby (with the loss of ca. 1300 men) and several recovered cannons from the wreck were installed in the gate house of Dunluce Castle. Other cargo from the wreck was sold and the funds were used to restore the castle.
In the 1630's the castle was owned by Randal MacDonnell, 1st Earl of Antrim, one of Sorley Boy's sons. When in 1634 the kitchen wing collapsed and fell into the sea, his English wife Catherine Manners refused to live in the castle any longer.
A small town which stood in the fields beside the castle was burned down in 1641 during the rebellion when an Irish army besieged the castle. In 1642 the castle was taken by General Robert Monro. In the later part of the 17th century the castle fell into disrepair and was finally abandoned, its remains scavenged to serve as materials for nearby buildings.
The castle can be visited for a small fee. When I arrived it had just closed for the day, too bad because I would have loved to visit the interior of this great castle ruin. Well, it is a good reason to return someday.