Dunluce is a castle with no early history.  The round ‘thirteenth century' towers are traditionally said to have been built by Richard Burgh when he was earl of Ulster (1271-1326).  However, the castle is not mentioned until the early sixteenth century and an argument has been put forward that the castle cannot even have been founded before 1360.  That said, other than the early round towers, which appear twelfth century with their curving mural stairs, rather than thirteenth, there are also traces of early masonry on the site.  This consists of the remains of four Norman pillars built into the south wall of the hall and running parallel with the south curtain.

In 1565 the castle was held by Somhairle Buidhe MacDonnell when he surrendered it to Sean O'Neill.  It was recovered in 1567 when Sean was murdered.  Then, in 1584, Sir John Perrot of Carew castle in Wales, attacked the fortress with ‘a culverin and two sakers of brass'.  The result may have been the destruction of the landward facing east curtain of the castle.  Certainly the south curtain was refortified with two large cannon ports and a new gatehouse.  A large unfortified lower ward was also constructed with extra accommodation on the end of the rock.  This was possibly built by Somhairle's son, Earl Randle of Antrim - a title he was granted in 1620.  He was certainly responsible for the new hall built in the main ward with 3 fine bay windows looking to the north.  The castle saw action in the Civil War, being besieged unsuccessfully by the Confederates in 1641.  In 1642 the second earl of Antrim was entertaining the Scottish Covenanter, General Monroe, when he arrested the earl and carried him off to Carrickfergus.  On his release the castle was abandoned, with the earl's wife insisting on the building of a new house further inland as she did not like the noise of the sea in the old castle.

The fortress occupies an almost totally isolated rock peninsula on the north coast of Ireland with the most spectacular of views.  The medieval defences consisted of a rectangular enclosure with a range of buildings along the south and east curtains.  There are said to have been round towers at the four corners, but only two remain on the east side.  They are 30' in diameter, while the early south curtain is 6' thick.  The towers have ground floor entrances and mural stairways curving up within the walls.  Beneath the north tower is a souterrain of the early Christian period and a natural cave into which it is said galleys could be drawn for concealment.


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