Dunluce Castle

After getting helplessly lost while leaving Sligo, my mother and I were quite eager to get back to sight seeing.  Thankfully, our bed and breakfast in Portrush wasn’t too far away from our first site of the day, Dunluce Castle.  After a mere 15 minute drive down a road hugging Antrim’s beautiful coastline, we reached the castle before the large tour groups had begun to arrive.


Perched on one of Antrim’s cliffs, the castle has a very iconic look and has been called one of Ireland’s most romantic castles.  Parts of the castle were first built in the 1200s, but most of what remains today is much more recent – major additions were made through the 1600s.  But by the mid 1600s, the castle was abandoned by its last resident, the second Earl of Antrim, Randall McDonnell.  Story has it that in 1639, part of the kitchen fell into the sea during a storm, taking part of the kitchen staff along with it and prompting the Earl and his family to move first to Ballymagarry, then to Glenarm Castle when it was rebuilt in 1756.


Our time at Dunluce stood out most for its beautiful views of the ocean and Antrim coastline.  Since we arrived at the very start of the tourist season, the visitor’s center hadn’t gotten any postcards or brochures in yet, leaving us with little to go on aside from signs posted around the site.  I had downloaded a companion app for the site, but we found it more enjoyable just to take in the rugged beauty of the place and wander where we will rather than follow a structured tour path.


With a clear sky above and cool breezes coming in off the ocean, it was the perfect way to start another long day.  And though it was one of the busier sites we went to, it was easy to lose ourselves in both the moment and memories of our previous trip.  We’d seen a different part of Antrim then, with no idea how close we’d been to the castle – merely 15 minutes away, at the Giant’s Causeway.


Looking from the castle toward Portrush, where we’d spent the previous night.

Both sites are truly fantastic, and I highly recommend seeing them at the same time, if you can.  Along with the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Dark Hedges farther inland, they make a fairly nice cluster of sites that give a good sense of Antrim’s beauty.  But as a word of warning, plan on dedicating a full day to see them all – it’s a long drive back to the Republic.  My mother and I learned that the hard way.

Dunluce Castle is open daily from 10:00am onward, with closing hours varying from season to season.  Admission is £5 for adults and £3 for seniors and children.  The site also has a small tea room with bathrooms and souvenirs different than what you can find in the true visitor’s center.

Additional Links & Resources:

Discover Northern Ireland:  Dunluce Castle

The Golden Book:  Ireland, pages 107, 109

Parks & Gardens UK:  Dunluce Castle

Cahir Castle

Situated on a rocky island in county Tipperary, Cahir Castle is among Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles.


Image Credit:  Irish Castles

First built in 1142 by Conor O’Brien, the castle replaced an earlier earthen fort that stood on the same site. Ownership of Cahir passed to the Butler family in the 13th century, who proceeded to expand and strengthen its defenses through the 15th century. The castle was captured three times over the course of its history, sometimes without a single shot fired.


Image Credit:  Irish Castles

Upon the last lord’s death in 1961, Cahir Castle became property of the Irish State. Multiple restorations have taken place since then, with an effort to remain faithful to the castle’s original design.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Cahir Castle also currently houses an exhibit over the Rising and War of Independence. The exhibit will remain in the castle’s great hall until September 30th.


Image Credit:  Wikipedia

The castle has varying operating hours during the year. From March to mid-June, the site is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Hours are extended from mid-June to August, with visitors welcome from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. Without a Heritage Card, admission is 4 euro per adult, 3 euro for seniors and 2 euro for children.  Guided tours are available, but must be booked in advance.

It’s also worth noting, the site only takes cash – no credit or debit cards will be accepted – so plan accordingly.

Additional Links & Resources:

Irish Castles: Cahir Castle

Heritage Ireland: Cahir Castle

Tourism Ireland: Cahir Castle

Irish Tourism: Cahir Castle