Dunluce Castle

Exploring the History and Mystery of Dunluce Castle - Dunluce is one of the most picturesque and romantic of Irish Castles

Dunluce Castle Ireland Game of Thrones - History and Facts

Dunluce Castle is a remarkable example of medieval architecture and Irish history. It was originally the home of the powerful Clan MacDonnell, whose influence could be felt throughout Northern Ireland. 

Though now in ruins, it still stands tall, perched atop a basalt outcropping in County Antrim. To reach the castle, visitors must cross a bridge that connects it to the mainland. Once there, they will be awed by the steep drops on either side of the castle, which add to the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding landscape. 

The location’s history goes back even further, as it was once the site of an early Irish fort that attracted both early Christians and Vikings. Experiencing Dunluce’s stunning natural surroundings and rich cultural heritage is an enriching experience for all who visit.


As you embark on your journey along the breathtaking coastline of the stunning County Antrim, you will be greeted by a truly mesmerizing sight that will whisk you away to a time of medieval wonder. 

This magnificent sighting is none other than the legendary Dunluce Castle, standing proud atop a rugged and craggy headland. Whilst it may now be in a state of ruin, the castle walls still hold within them a rich and fascinating history that is steeped in romance, betrayal, and tragedy between the great McQuillan and MacDonnell clans.

For those who have a deep-seated passion for history, there is no better place to be. The tales that Dunluce Castle holds within its walls is nothing short of extraordinary, and for anyone with an adventurous spirit, this is a unique and thrilling experience that is not to be missed. So what are you waiting for? Come and discover the wonders of Dunluce Castle for yourself!

Dunluce Castle

The history of Dunluce Castle

In the 13th century, the first castle at Dunluce was erected by Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster. Records indicate that the McQuillan family held possession of the castle in 1513. Two large drum towers can be seen on the eastern side of the castle, both of which were built by the McQuillans after they became lords of The Route. 

The McQuillans were the Lords of Route from the late 13th century until the mid-16th century when they were defeated by the MacDonnells in two major battles. The castle subsequently became the home of the chief of the Clan MacDonnell of Antrim and the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg from Scotland.

After the death of James MacDonald, the 6th chief of the Clan MacDonald of Antrim and Dunnyveg, the Antrim Glens were seized by Sorley Boy MacDonnell, one of his younger brothers. Sorley Boy took the castle, refurbished it in the Scottish style and subsequently swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth I. In 1690, following the Battle of the Boyne, the MacDonnells became impoverished and the castle gradually deteriorated thereafter.

According to the legend, part of the kitchen next to the cliff face collapsed into the sea, forcing the lady of the house to refuse to live in the castle any longer. Although this story is well-known, the kitchen remains intact and serves as an attraction for visitors today.

Beyond the Dunluce Castle

Are you an avid fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones? If you’re planning to visit Northern Ireland, you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to witness the magical filming locations of this captivating series. In Northern Ireland, the stunning avenue of twisted beech trees, famously known as The Dark Hedges, should be on your priority list. 

This globally-renowned site was the filming location for the Kingsroad, but what many don’t know is that it is also believed to be home to a ghostly Grey Lady. If you’re not up for a supernatural encounter, don’t worry; the world-famous Giant’s Causeway is just a short drive away from Dunluce. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a wonder to behold, featuring 40,000 basalt columns. 

These magnificent rocks were formed over 60 million years ago when a volcanic fissure eruption occurred. So, join the adventure and experience the irresistible charm of Northern Ireland.

Need to know: Dunluce Castle

If you are travelling to Dunluce Castle without a car, there are transportation options available. Public transport is available and bespoke bus tours such as City Tours Belfast, The Giant’s Causeway Tour and Belfast Torus NI Private Tours are options as well. 

The castle is open to visitors daily between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., with the last entrance at 4:30 p.m. (please note that it closes at 4:00 p.m. in December and January). 

There is an admission fee to enter and no prior booking is required. The nearby Magheracross Lookout and Picnic Area offers parking and an excellent view of the castle and coastal headlands. Additionally, the town of Portrush is a lovely destination with stunning beaches and fantastic golf. 

Visitors should also consider visiting Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, a stunning walkway linking the mainland to a small island (advanced booking is recommended).”

Dunluce Castle GOT

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For an authentic experience in Belfast, it is suggested that at least 3 full days and 2 nights be allocated to discover the city’s offerings. The duration of the visit is dependent on the visitor’s preferences and availability; however, we highly recommend the aforementioned timeline to ensure an in-depth exploration of the city. We highly recommend this 3-day itinerary from Belfast.

Visit the Portballintrae Village

Portballintrae was once a peaceful fishing village until the property boom of the 1990s. Despite the growth, the area still retains a sense of history with its remarkable monument. The entrance to the monument, located off the car park at Bushfoot strand, features two sets of large concentric earthen rings. 

The west rings, built over a spring, were lined with impervious clay, creating an oval sacred pool that faces the midsummer sunset. The townland to the south, Ballaghmore (the great road), marks the end of the great road that began at Tara, capital of Ireland. 

Bushfoot strand, situated at the mouth of the river Bush, has a long history of early inhabitants. Runkerry House, located at the end of the bay, enjoys stunning midsummer sunsets. There are several other lodges in the area too, which served as the bathing places of choice for the landed gentry. 

Additionally, during the First World War, a German submarine mistakenly fired upon Portballintrae, leaving behind fragments of shells that locals later collected as souvenirs.

Visit old Bushmills Distillery

Old Bushmills Distillery Tasting room 1

In 1608, an iconic event took place in Bushmills as King James I granted a special licence to distil whiskey in this small village located in Northern Ireland’s rugged north coast. Today, Bushmills remains home to the oldest licenced whiskey distillery globally where the production of whiskey still continues. 

They use Irish barley and their unique water from their stream, guaranteeing the finest whiskeys worldwide, and their expertise and experience of over four centuries speak volumes of their quality.

As proudly stated by master distiller Colum Egan, their excellence is not merely because of their age, but rather their unsurpassed production techniques and the use of the finest ingredients for their creations. 

A visit to the establishment is an experience in itself, exploring the terrain that gives rise to its unique character, meeting the dedicated people who have safeguarded centuries of knowledge and gaining insight into their traditional craft while savouring the rich aromas and full-bodied flavours of Northern Ireland’s oldest working distillery.

Have more time? Why Not Take a trip to Giant's Causeway

Giants Causeway Tour

The Giant’s Causeway is undoubtedly a sight to behold, and it has been recognized as such by UNESCO, who have designated it as a World Heritage site. Located on the stunning North East coast of County Antrim, this geological formation is not only magnificent but also mysterious. 

The area is characterized by polygonal columns that appear to have been placed with great precision, giving rise to countless theories regarding its formation – from the mythological to the scientific.

 As you explore this incredible site, you’ll have the chance to marvel at the interlocking basalt columns and incredible natural landscape. The Giant’s Causeway truly takes you on a journey through time as you explore the area and discover its fascinating history, making it a must-see destination for anyone interested in the natural world or Ireland’s rich and diverse heritage.

Best tips for your Northern Ireland Holiday So you are planning a trip to Northern Ireland, maybe you want to explore the Giants Causeway? Here are some useful tips and advice on how to plan your trip, so that you can get the best out of it. Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland has been voted one of the top travel destinations in the world by Conde Nast Traveler readers. 

You can visit this place by taking a private tour trip. The Causeway Coast area is home to many beautiful attractions, many of which are well known such as the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, where you can walk over the ocean on a rope bridge. Another attraction is Dunluce Castle, which has been abandoned since the 16th century, when it was destroyed during the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and is said to be haunted. 

There is also Old Bushmills Distillery where you can witness whiskey being produced in a traditional way. And not to be missed The Dark Hedges one of the most popular natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. How to get there: Getting around Northern Ireland is easy if you have a car or take a private tour.

This blog post will help you plan your next holiday in Northern Ireland, You will find out lots of information that will help you plan your next trip, activities during your holiday and when is the best time to visit.

Visit Game of Thrones Filming Locations

Combo Tours

Journey through the real-life Westeros on this fully-guided private Game of Thrones Tour from Belfast.  Follow in the footsteps of the Starks, the Lannisters, and all your favourite characters and embark on an epic journey through the Seven Kingdoms and Immerse yourself in the real-life Game of Thrones filming locations seen on-screen.

This is a must-see tour for any Game of Thrones Fan. This tour takes you to several of the Game of Thrones filming locations used in the series and also includes a visit to the Giants Causeway the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland, and walk the notorious Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. 

With this full-day experience, you will also get to visit the Glens of Antrim and the dramatic world-famous causeway coast and travel through the rolling farmland of County Antrim. The Antrim Coast Road is widely agreed to be one of the finest stretches of road anywhere in the world.

You have the option to stop at unexpected points if you wish for photo stops etc as and when requested. This tour can be tailored to customers’ requests.

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Popular Private Tours in Belfast

The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most beautiful sites that Northern Ireland has to offer. This natural phenomenon was created by a volcanic eruption.

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, suspended almost 100ft (30m) above sea level, was first erected by a salmon fisherman 350 years ago.

Bushmills Whiskey Distillery has been creating beautiful ‘ water of life ‘ since 1608 making this the oldest working distillery in Ireland.

Bushmills Whiskey Distillery has been creating beautiful ‘ water of life ‘ since 1608 making this the oldest working distillery in Ireland.

Bushmills Whiskey Distillery has been creating beautiful ‘ water of life ‘ since 1608 making this the oldest working distillery in Ireland.

Bushmills Whiskey Distillery has been creating beautiful ‘ water of life ‘ since 1608 making this the oldest working distillery in Ireland.