Dunluce Castle

Attractions in Bushmills

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Dunluce Castle


Steeped in centuries of history, myths and legends, the unique and impressive castles and towers that dot the Northern Irish landscape reveal surprising aspects of our past and how, at times, their architecture played a critical role in defining our past and our present.

Dunluce Castle is one of these castles, located dramatically close to a headland that plunges straight into the sea, along the North Antrim coast. It was the headquarters of the MacDonnell Clan. There is archaeological evidence of a village that surrounded the castle which is believed to have been destroyed by fire in 1641. The site was also witness to the sinking of a colony ship that broke up on the rocks off Islay in 1857 with the loss of 240 lives.

Constantly fought over, the castle eventually succumbed to the power of nature, when part of it fell into the sea one stormy night in 1639. It was abandoned shortly afterwards.

While there is evidence that parts of the castle date back to the 14th century, the first record of it is from 1513 when it belonged to the MacQuillans.

The 17th century mainland courtyard, containing domestic buildings, leads downhill to a narrow crossing to the rock, formerly protected by a drawbridge to the gatehouse. The buildings on the rock are 16th and 17th century.

Recent archaeological excavations of Dunluce Castle have further demonstrated the significance of the site, revealing an incredibly well preserved merchant town built in 1608.

Dunluce Castle is regarded as the possible inspiration for Cair Paravel in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.

An app for iphone and android devices has been developed for Dunluce Castle. This is now available, free of charge, from the App Store and Google Play.

Visitor information:

There is limited disabled access for wheelchair users as the site has a cobbled, uneven surface. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing. No admission to unaccompanied children under the age of 16.

Opening Times:

10:00am - 17:30pm Daily (1st Apr to 30th Sep)
10:00am - 16:30pm Daily (1st Oct to 30th Nov)
10:00am - 16:00pm Daily (1st Dec to 31st Jan)
10:00am - 17:00pm Daily (1st Feb to 31st Mar)


Adult - £5
Children/Seniors - £3 Children under 4 years old - Free
Family (2 adults and 2 children) - £13
Group Rate - (10 plus must be booked) £3 per person


The Antrim Coastline has been voted by many official bodies as one of the Top 10 Coastal drives in the world. Until you have visited all of the coastal drives in the world it is hard too know, but I will personally say after travelling along this piece of coastline during the preparation and research of this book, this is the best coastal drives that I have ever driven on! Along that journey is the now ruined Dunluce Castle which was first built in the 13th Century. Once home too Chieftains, Earls and their many servants, this castle is just jam packed with Irish history. But since the Battle of the Boyne this once picturesque castle is now in ruins, but still very much worth a visit. No visit too the castle is complete without visiting the wee cottage opposite. Avril, the lady who runs this tearoom is a real character and her sandwiches and cakes are amazing!

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