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Antrim Coast Weekend Break Belfast Northern Ireland Holiday travel guide tips and advice for the independant traveller hotel and flights
Advice for the independent traveller who wants more from their holiday.
Antrim Coast Weekend Break, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Dunluce Castle
The ruins of this fine castle can be seen from the road on the drive to Portrush. The best location to take photographs are from the east side of the castle along the road. It is a major Northern Ireland landmark and tourist attraction. Limestone cliffs of the White Rocks ends abruptly against a dark basalt outcrop on which was built Dunluce Castle.

Dunluce Castle in Portrush can be found along the Northern Irelands Antrim Coast

It is joined to the mainland by an arched walkway. The natural cave underneath is known as the ' Mermaid's Cave'. It is believed that the castle was built or (possibly) rebuilt by Richard de Burgh or one of his chief followers during the Anglo Norman period in Ireland. The site certainly was occupied as a fort before this time, a souterrain exists on the outcrop under one of the towers. The castle which has seen many additions to its original structure over the centuries gradually fell into disuse from the late 1600s' when the last occupier, Randall MacDonnell, the second Earl of Antrim moved to Ballymagarry House. 

Dunluce Castle Portrush Northern Irelands Antrim Coast

In the mid 1700s the seat of the Earl's of Antrim moved to the present location of Glenarn Castle. A thriving merchant village that once surrounded the castle was destroyed by fire during 1641 when the castle was besieged by an Irish army, the outlines of some of the old walls can still be seen in the land to the west of the castle. Close by is the ancient church ruins of St. Cuthbert's named after a Northumbrian monk and the (possible) burial site of sailors and noblemen from the Spanish Armada.

The most colourful occupier of Dunluce Castle was Sorley Boy MacDonnell, a Scottish chieftain whose clan established their dominance along the north coast in the mid 1500s, he had many differences of opinion with Queen Elizabeth who sent Sir John Perrottt here in 1584 to bring him to task but Sorley evaded arrest. Dunluce Castle was fought over many times in its past and it is wrapped in myths and legends. On a clear day you can look over an expanse of ocean from here to Donegal and round to Islay, a view which has remained unchanged for centuries. It was within this view that the tragedy of the emigrant ship the Exmouth took place in April, 1857, bound for Quebec, she spent almost three days in horrendous sea conditions before finally breaking up on rocks off Islay with the loss of 240 lives - her story is told here. 1588 - The Girona, a ship belonging to the Spanish Armada, is wrecked in the waters near the castle. According to reports, Sorley Boy assisted the survivors, but sold much of what was salvaged to pay for improvements to the castle.

The Spanish Armada navigators did not take into account the affect of the warm Gulf Stream that passes the Irish coast at speed. They had sailed past the top of Scotland and were trying to make their way back to Spain. They sailed out into the Atlantic ocean for what they thought was the correct amount of distance before changing course south so as to miss the Irish coast. This is where they went wrong. Have you ever tried to walk up a down escalator or walk along a moving walkway in an airport the wrong way? You go not go very far. You stay in the same place unless you drastically increase your speed. This is the same effect that the Gulf Stream had on these Spanish warships. They thought they were about 300miles west into the Atlantic ocean when in fact they were only about 100 miles. When they changed their direction south they smashed into the rocky coast of Ireland rather than passing it.

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