Dunluce Castle

From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 16, October 13, 1832

Our readers will recollect that when we gave a view of the Giant's Causeway, we promised a view and description of the Castle of Dunluce, which is situated about two miles from that famous curiosity.

The Castle of Dunluce - the ancient residence of the Earls of Antrim - which is situated about two miles east of the Giant's Causeway, though not a building of much architectural grandeur, may on account of its extent and situation, be justly considered as one of the most important and interesting remains of the kind in Ireland. Its mouldering walls entirely cover and appear to be part of an insulated perpendicular rock of an hundred feet high, standing proudly among the boiling waves which foam around and wash its sides, and separated from the main land by a precipitous chasm of about twenty feet wide, and nearly a hundred feet deep. A narrow wall, one of the supporters of the ancient draw-bridge, is the only way by which it can be entered, a circumstance which adds to its romantic interest. The view is taken from the east and shows the receding coast stretching out into the distant mountains of Derry and Donegal.

Dunluce Castle

It is thus described by a well-known Irish tourist.
"Reader, surely you cannot be at a loss for a drawing or print of Dunluce Castle - take it now in hand? and observe with me the narrow wall that connects the ruined fortress with the mainland; see how this wall is perforated, and without any support from beneath, how it hangs there, braving time and tempest, and still needing no arch, simply by the strength of its own cemented material - the art of man could not make such another self-supported thing - it is about eighteen inches broad, just the path of a man - don't be afraid to cross it - rest assured it won't tumble with you - it has borne many a better man, so come on. With the greatest ease, my guide and I tripped across. 'And now, Mr. M'Mullen, as you and I have this old place to ourselves, come shew me every thing, and tell me all about it - beyond a doubt it is a fine old place.' 'Why then, sir, it is you that may say that, for many a battle and bloody head was about it in good old fighting times, when fighting and fun were all one in merry Ireland.' 'Come then, Alick, tell me something about it." The tourist, after giving a legend of the guide's, respecting a contention of the M'Quillans and the M'Donnells for the lordship of the castle, inquires, "How long is it since it was inhabited?" He pointed to where the walls and battlements had given way, and a yawning chasm exposed the precipice, over the cave's mouth, some hundred yards below. It seemed to have been the Castle kitchen; there remained the mantle-piece of a huge fire-place; and doubtless many a sirloin and baron of beef, many a fat pig and curdy salmon sent their savoury steam up that wide-mouthed chimney.

"'What happened to this poor old kitchen, Alick?' 'Why, Sir, some sixty or eighty years ago, the lady Margaret M'Donnell, who, during her widowhood, kept the castle for her young son, according to old hospitable usage, and in honour of Christmas times, gave a grand entertainment; and the Chichesters of Belfast, the O'Neils of Shane Castle, the Hamiltons of Tyrone, the Stewarts and Montgomerys, and what not - all the grandees of the North were, and a dinner fit for King George and all his Parliament was a-dressing for them, and while all was fun and fuss within, it was rather rough work outside. That smooth, green silky sea, there now before you, on a December night, when the north-west gale sets in, has another guess appearance, beating and lashing the coast in a terrible passion, and rattling about these old walls. But who cared for all that; its grey stones sure were accustomed to such peltings, all was quite natural to them; so no one minded what was a-going on without - it might be a sea-boat's business, but what was it to the castle of Dunluce. So the piper was merry in the hall, and the cook stewing away in the kitchen; and as there were as many dishes to be dressed as there are days in the year, why a tinker was sitting in yonder window, mending the kettles and sawdering the pots and pans, when all of a sudden a roll of the tempest came on, and then a crack, as if all the cannons in Coleraine were firing - and, without a moment's notice, kitchen and cook, dresser and table, all the meat and all the maids in the place went down awfully into the howling ocean, and not a soul or a thing remained, but the poor tinker, who sat in yonder window, and it is called the tinker's window to this day. I need not tell your honour how the grandees tucked up their skirts, and got on firm land as fast as possible, lest they should follow the poor cook to feed the fishes: and so the Lady Margaret moved off with all haste, and fixed herself at Glenarm; and after a time the roofs here fell in, and the place has remained the ruin that you see it, ever since."