Daily Archives: June 1, 2023

The Notorious Sorley Boy

Dunluce Castle was established early in the 1500s by the MacQuillans as the center of power for their Gaelic lordship. In the mid 1550s the Scottish clan, our old friends the MacDonnells, ousted the MacQuillans; we can only guess how but bloodshed was probably involved. What followed was near constant conflict with the surrounding families in burgeoning Dunluce Town. Sorley Boy MacDonnell, in a tug of war with the English Crown and Ulster Gaelic Chieftains, lost Dunluce in a prolonged seige, gained it back, then lost it again to the even more notorious Cromwell. Let’s just call it an actual Game of Thrones.

Our task this morning is called the Game of Parking, or GoP. It was a tragic lack of imagination that Sorley Boy MacDonnell didn’t plan for the crush of buses and automobiles that would need a little real estate to visit his old family home. Buses take up 50% of the paltry few parking slots so the hot tip is to go early. We went early. What a joke.

Marce suggested passing the parking strip and coming in from behind. That’s something Sorley Boy would try. As we pulled in, a small van was pulling out and I snuck right in behind him. A frustrated bus driver came over with his finger wagging and wanted to kick us out but another driver said no, no, just pull in close to the stone wall, which was exactly what I’d planned to do. We were squeezed into the impossible-to-find parking place. I thanked my new best friend and smiled at Mr. Grumpy. We are the Notorious Escape Velocity!

Dunluce Castle is beautifully situated on top of a basalt promontory jutting out into the Irish Sea.

After an obligatory trip through the gift shop, you stroll down through an expansive walled-in domestic section with stables, brewhouse and guest lodgings.

Suddenly far off in the distance you see the bridge to the gatehouse and its majestic twin towers. It’s really an awesome sight.

There’s an elegant masonry arched bridge in place of the original drawbridge.

The gatehouse has Scottish style corbeled corner turrets that are quite familiar to us.

A reinforced curtain wall has two openings that face the mainland with cannon rescued from the Spanish Armada vessel La Girona which sank near here.

Opposite is an unusually elegant feature called a loggia, a row of columns holding up a roof to cover a walkway. Definitely a southern Europe influence .

The remains of a fine Jacobean mansion, built by Randal MacDonnell by 1620 was the main residence.

We took to the stairs to see an underground cave which in calm water was the only handy landing from the sea.

There comes a time in every adventure when you’ve got to go home. We found our home mired in a sea of vendors of sausage baps, fish & chips, and Mr. Whippy soft serve. In other words, a real circus. We eased EV into line and crept forward behind exiting buses loaded with funseekers.


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