Dunluce Castle is situated on the North Antrim Coast between the towns of Bushmills and Portrush. The landscape around the castle as well as the sound from the waves crashing against the cliffs below make it easy to picture the previous inhabitants past lives here. The Castle was built in 1500 by the McQuillan family who had come to the area from Scotland around the 13th Century as hired mercenaries. When the MacDonnell’s arrived around 50 years later from Islay, they took the castle by force, however, they had a hard time of it as they were besieged consistently by the English over the next 100 years or so!
The English finally took over the castle but the MacDonnell’s weren’t easily defeated and repeatedly attacked the castle until they succeeded in scaling the cliff face and climbed the corner towers to gain entry, here they hanged the English captain and his ghost still haunts the tower.
Another story from local history has it that one stormy night during a banquet at the castle part of the kitchen fell away off the cliff to the sea below taking seven of the cooks with it. Although other stories claim this never happened though.
Another ghost seen in the castle is that of Maeve Roe, the daughter of Lord McQuillan, she was the only girl and her father had chosen her husband to be Rory Og, a relative of the family. Maeve Roe had different ideas as her true love was Reginald O’Cahan, she had met him while he stayed in the castle as a prisoner of her family as his father and Maeve’s were bitter enemies. One night, after her father had locked her in one of the castle towers, Reginald managed to rescue her, they ran to Mermaid’s Cave beneath the castle where they escaped by rowing boat.
No happy ever after to this story though as the boat was dashed against the rocks and both were killed. Reginald’s body was washed ashore the following day but Maeve’s body was never recovered. Maeve’s ghost is said to be still seen in the tower.
In more recent times, CS Lewis is reputed to have taken inspiration from DunluceCastle for the Royal Castle of Cair Paravel in the Chronicles of Narnia.
If you are watching the Game of Thrones series, you may recognise Dunluce as the reaver stronghold of Pyke on the Iron Islands.
The castle can be included on a Causeway Coast itinerary as it is only a couple of miles from other popular attractions on that coastline including Bushmills Distillery and the Giants Causeway.
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