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Dunseverick Castle: An Often-Missed Ruin On The Causeway Coast

Dunseverick Castle: An Often-Missed Ruin On The Causeway Coast

The mighty Dunseverick Castle is one of the more unique castles in Northern Ireland.

For fans of mighty views and ancient history, Dunseverick Castle on the Causeway Coastal Route is a top place to stop off on your Northern Ireland road trip.

With a long and fascinating history, filled with legend and folklore, plus its cliff-edge location, it boasts an incredible atmosphere.

In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from where to park to the history of Dunseverick Castle.

Things to know before visiting Dunseverick Castle

Dunseverick Castle antrim

Photo by Ondrej Prochazka (Shutterstock)

Although a visit to Dunseverick Castle is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Dunseverick Castle is just outside the village of Dunseverick in Antrim, and is around 10 miles (16 km) from Ballycastle. It’s a 5-minute drive from Whitepark Bay Beach and a 10-minute drive from both the Old Bushmills Distillery and the Giants Causeway

2. Parking

There’s a mid-sized car park just off the main route (the A2), shortly after Whitepark Bay Beach here. First, you’ll see a small lay-by and viewpoint, then after a cluster of white buildings, the car park is directly on your left. From the car park, you’ll find a short path that takes you to the castle.

3. Part of the Causeway Coastal Route

Dunseverick Castle is an attraction on the Causeway Coastal Route, a popular cliff-edge jaunt that takes in a number of amazing sights on the Antrim coast. It’s a great drive and there’s also a walking route if you’re up for an incredible multi-day hike.

4. Beware the boggy land

Even though the walk from the car park is pretty short, the going can be pretty boggy, especially if it’s been raining recently. You’ll definitely benefit from a good pair of walking boots, although an old pair of trainers will suffice if you don’t mind them getting muddy.

The history of Dunseverick Castle

 

Dunseverick Castle has a rich history that stretches back for more than 1,500 years. It started life as a stone fort, strategically placed to defend against attacks from the sea.

The earliest records pertaining to the castle mention Saint Patrick, who visited in the 5th Century AD. During this visit, he baptized a local man by the name of Olcán. This man went on to become a Bishop of Ireland and a saint of the Dál Riata.

Fergus the Great

In the 6th Century AD, the castle was the seat of Fergus Mor MacEirc. Known as Fergus the Great, he was king of Dalriada and the great-uncle of Muirceartaigh MacEirc, High King of Ireland.

During this time, the castle served as the departure point of the legendary coronation stone, the Lia Fail, which was used to crown all the kings of Ireland.

Enter the Vikings

Viking raiders attacked the mighty fort in 870 AD, and by 1,000 AD the castle was in the possession of the O’Cahan family. They held it for several centuries until in 1642 Cromwellian General Robert Munro captured and destroyed it.

Today, only the ruins of the ancient gatehouse remain. Everything else has already been taken by the sea, yet it still pulses a mystical atmosphere.

Things to do at Dunseverick Castle

While the castle might be in ruins and you can’t expect a guided tour of the throne rooms and royal chambers, there’s still plenty to keep you occupied at Dunseverick Castle.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from views and Dunseverick Falls to the walk out to the Giants Causeway.

1. Soak up the views

Dunseverick castle

Photo left: 4kclips. Photo right: Karel Cerny (Shutterstock)

Be it a blazing sunny day or a moody, drizzly winter’s afternoon, Dunseverick Castle offers a unique coastal location. Like stepping into a fairytale, gazing across the crumbling ruins and out to sea can transport you to another world, when kings would gaze out at their sea-kingdom and invaders would tremble at the behemoth atop the rugged cliffs. 

The surrounding cliffs continue to battle the ocean in vain, with scars of the past and huge chunks of land washed away, creating rugged surroundings. Look closely and you can spot Rathlin Island, and maybe even the Scottish Isles of Islay and Jura. 

2. Visit Dunseverick Falls

Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

Just a stone’s throw from the castle you’ll come across the stunning Dunseverick Falls. A small river meets the sea by diving off the cliff tops to create a wonderful spectacle. If you park at the nearby Dunseverick Harbour, there’s a nice seaside walk that you can take to reach the waterfall.

Along the way, you’ll come across a wealth of rock pools, brimming with sea critters. Dunseverick Falls is great for the kids, but also offers a sublime slice of tranquility.

Something of a hidden gem, you can enjoy the sounds and sights of land meeting sea in an almost magical display, and normally there won’t be another soul around.

3. Walk to the Giant’s Causeway

the giants causeway ireland

Photo by Kanuman (Shutterstock)

Dunseverick Castle is actually very close to the iconic Giants Causeway and if you feel like stretching your legs while enjoying some breathtaking views, there’s a footpath that’ll take you straight there.

The footpath is an almost 5-mile section of the larger Causeway Coast Way & Ulster Way. If you park at the castle car park, you can either walk to the Giant’s Causeway and back, or take a bus back— there’s a bus stop right at the car park.

You can expect incredible views over the cliff tops and out to sea, rolling farmlands, and the unforgettable basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway. Conditions can get pretty exposed on the cliffs, so wrap up warm and wear a decent pair of boots.

Things to see near Dunseverick Castle

One of the beauties of Dunseverick Castle is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best places to visit in Antrim.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Dunseverick Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Whitepark Bay Beach (5-minute drive)

whitepark bay beach

Photos by Frank Luerweg (Shutterstock)

The gorgeous sandy Whitepark Bay Beach is a fantastic place to try your hand at surfing, take a gentle stroll, or simply relax in the sun. Backed by wildflower-covered sand dunes, the surroundings are amazing yet the beach seldom feels crowded. Keep an eye out for the famous Whitepark Bay cows, who will be diligently carrying out vital maintenance on the sand dunes!

2. Ballintoy Harbour (10-minute drive)

Ballintoy Harbour game of thrones link

Photo by Ballygally View Images (Shutterstock)

The picturesque Ballintoy Harbour is a great place to check out, with an incredibly stunning, though steep and windy, road leading down to it. Stacks and rocky outcrops dot the sea and it’s lovely to just sit and watch the fishing boats skillfully navigate the treacherous waters. It’s a top spot for lunch, with the harbour cafe offering a range of tasty treats.

3. Giant’s Causeway (5-minute drive)

giant's causeway history

Photo by DrimaFilm (Shutterstock)

The Giants Causeway is perhaps Northern Ireland’s premier attraction and barely needs an introduction. However, nothing beats seeing the iconic landscape with your own eyes for the first time and no trip to Antrim would be complete without checking it out. The visitor centre is full of information and intriguing exhibits and displays which delve into the science and the legends that make the causeway such a magical place.

4. Heaps more attractions

Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge

Photos via Shutterstock

With such as central location on Antrim’s north coast there are plenty of other attractions just a short drive away. The vertigo-inducing rope bridge at Carrick-a-rede is a must for thrill-seekers, while you can enjoy incredible views from places like Torr Head and Fair Head. The Bushmills distillery is another top pick, while if you’re looking for more castles, check out Dunluce Castle and Kinbane Castle.

FAQs about visiting Dunseverick Castle in Northern Ireland

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from who lived in Dunseverick Castle to when was it built.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is there parking at Dunseverick Castle?

Yes, there’s a handy bit of parking right next to it. See the Google Map link above to find it.

Can you walk from Dunseverick Castle to Giants Causeway?

Yes, there’s a path from Dunseverick Castle to the Giants Causeway. It’s very exposed, so make sure to dress appropriately.

Is Dunseverick Castle really worth visiting?

It is. Especially if you’re driving the Causeway Coastal Route and you’re looking to see some off-the-beaten-path attractions.

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Joyce

Sunday 17th of July 2022

Whitepark Bay is a beautiful beach for a walk or horse ride but strictly not for bathing.

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