The interpretation of the name, which is conjectural, derives from dun-lois, a combination of dun, 'fort', used adjectively and lois, the word normally translated as 'ring-fort'. Perhaps the best rendering would be 'fortified residence'.
This late-medieval and 17th-century castle is dramatically surrounded by terrifyingly steep drops either side, which would have been a very important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this romantic place where an early Irish fort once stood.
In the 1200's Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, first built this castle at Dunluce.
The earliest features of the castle are two large drum towers about 9 metres in diameter on the eastern side, both relics of a stronghold built here by the McQuillans after they became lords of the district in the late fourteenth century.
It often came under siege, and in 1584 Sorley Boy MacDonnell(1505-1589) captured it when one of his men, employed in the castle, hauled his comrades up the cliff in a basket. Sorley Boy came into some booty (some of which can be seen in the Ulster Museum in Belfast) in 1588 when the Spanish Armada treasure ship Girona was wrecked by storm off the Giant's Causeway. The money was used to modernise the castle but in 1639 the kitchen fell into the sea and carried away the cooks and all their pots. After this it was abandoned by the MacDonnell clan.
WINTER OPENING HOURS (1st October - 31st March)
SUMMER OPENING HOURS (1st April - 30th Sept)
Last admission 30 minutes before closing time. In special circumstances the site may be opened on request outside of these hours. Please contact the numbers below to discuss your requirements.
Booking and queries: For information on visits to Dunluce Castle, please contact EHS on 028 20 73 1938.
There is an entrance gate from the car-park into sloping mainland court which is linked to the main buildings on the rock by a narrow footbridge. There are some modern surfaces but there are also areas of original paving and cobbles, which will make access to parts of the site difficult for wheelchair-users.