You’ll find the iconic ruins of Dunluce Castle perched on jagged cliffs along County Antrim’s magnificent coastline.
A source of wanderlust for travelers the world over, the castles unique appearance and quirky history has seen it receive its fair share of attention online in recent years.
Its appearance in Game of Thrones alongside the Dark Hedges may have helped…
Here’s some quick facts about Dunluce Castle to kick us off 💪
- The castle was first built by the MacQuillan family around 1500
- The earliest written record of the castle was in 1513
- The Dunluce Castle Game of Thrones link is due to it acting as the stronghold of Pyke on the Iron Islands in the TV series
- The castle randomly appeared on the artwork of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album ‘Houses Of The Holy’
What this crumbly aul castle is all about
The first castle at Dunluce was built by the 2nd Earl of Ulster, Richard Óg de Burgh, in the 13th century.
Fast forward to 1513 and the castle was seized by McQuillan family, led by the infamous warrior chieftain Sorely Boy MacDonnell.
It served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until the impoverishment of the MacDonnells in 1690, following the Battle of the Boyne.
Since then, Dunluce Castle has deteriorated into the gorgeous crumbly ruin that it is today.
The dramatic and violent history of Dunluce is matched by tales of a banshee and the castle kitchens falling into the sea one stormy night in 1639 (more on this below).
The Dunluce Castle Game of Thrones Link
Many different locations across Ireland were used during the filming of Game of Thrones.
Dunluce Castle, a place that really does look like something from a land that time forgot, was chosen to represent House of Greyjoy, the ruler of the Iron Islands in the show.
Now, for any Game of Thrones fans planning a visit to Dunluce Castle, keep in mind that it won’t look exactly as it did during the series.
You can thank digital reconstruction for that.
Dunluce, alongside the other historic castles used during filming, was given a virtual makeover.
Alongside six other historic castles in mainland Britain, Dunluce Castle was given the virtual treatment.
“Wait… what was all that about a Banshee?”
The tale begins with Maeve Roe, the only daughter of Lord MacQuillan.
According to legend, Lord MacQuillan wanted his daughter to become engaged to a man name Richard Oge, but she had already fallen for someone else – Reginald O’Cahan.
So, her lovely aul lad decided to lock her up in one of the castles turrets as punishment… a right aul boll*x.
On one dark and stormy night, Reginald O’Cahan visited the castle to rescue Maeve.
The couple secretly fled the fortress and made their way to a small boat, which they would use to make their way across the sea towards Portrush.
Alas, the powerful ocean flung the couples boat against the rocks at the base of the cliff, and both drowned.
It’s said that Maeve’s body was never recovered.
On dark stormy nights, visitors to the castle have reported hearing high pitched wails and screams coming from the Northeast Tower – the one that Maeve was kept in by her father.
Thus, the tale of the Dunluce Castle Banshee was born.
“… and what about kitchens falling into the sea?”
According to legend, on a particularly stormy night in 1639, part of the kitchen next to the cliff face collapsed into the icy waters below.
Legend tells that when the kitchen dropped into the sea, only a kitchen boy survived, as he was sat in the corner of the kitchen which remained intact.
This story is in fact a myth.
There are several paintings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that show that the end of the castle was still intact at that point.
See Dunluce Castle from the sky
There’s nothing like a dollop of drone footage to get a unique perspective of what a place looks like from every angle imaginable.
Here’s a cracking bit of footage that shows the castle as you’ve never seen it before!
Dunluce Castle Tours and Road Trips
Planning a visit to the castle?
If you follow our 2-day road trip that takes in the best things to do on the Causeway Coastal Route, you’ll end up here on day 1.
For those of you that fancy going inside, here’s everything you need to know about opening times and costs:
- Dunluce Castle Opening hours: Daily: 10.00 – 16.00 (last entry strictly 15.30)
- When it’s closed: The Castle will be Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day
- Admission prices: Adult – £5.50, Child (age 4 – 16) – £3.50, Senior citizen £3.50, Student and Benefit Claimants (ID required) – £3.50, Child under 4 – Free, Family (up to 5 members, including up to 3 adults) – £15.00, Group rate(10 plus, must be pre-booked) – £4 per person
Be sure to check out our guide to visiting the best castles in Ireland if you’re looking to dive into more castles on your trip to Ireland.
Have you ever visited Dunluce Castle? Was it worth the visit? Let me know in the comments below!