Dunluce Castle

Excerpt from the book Travels through History : Northern Ireland and Scotland  Belfast and the Causeway Coast has been rated best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. In September 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world by a respected travel company, Rough Guides

Dunluce Castle dates from around 1500 when it was established by the MacQuillans on a rocky outcrop, jutting out into the stormy, grey North Atlantic Ocean. Around 50 years later, the MacQuillans were ousted by the MacDonnells, a family descended from the Scottish Clan MacDonald. The MacQuillans quickly became the dominant family of the area and who were in conflict with the surrounding families on a constant basis.

Their conflicts soon came to the attention of the English Crown, who were concerned about their growing power in the area. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth I sent Sir John Perrot, Lord Deputy of Ireland, to deal with the MacQuillans. Sir John successfully besieged the castle, but Elizabeth handed the castle back to “Sorley Boy” MacQuillan two years later, when he swore an oath of allegiance to her. “Sorley Boy”, meaning ‘Yellow Charles’ in Irish, repaired the castle with money obtained from selling some of the artefacts obtained from the wreck of the Girona. He also installed three cannons from the ship at the castle.

10 of the UK’s best castles for a family day out

With half-term upon us and summer round the corner, the UK’s castles are rolling out all kinds of entertainment, including medieval-themed activities, theatre, glamping – and a dash of Harry Potter

Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland, Scotland

Dunrobin Castle was modelled on a Loire chateau by the architect Charles Barry. This castle is the seat of the Sutherland family who once used to ‘own’ 1.3 million acres of land in the area although I was unable to ascertain how much of this land came at the expense of evicted crofters. The gardens are fairly small and do show the visitor how beautiful the castle looks from a distance. The gardens have many fine examples of Gunnera plants also known as the giant rhubarb. Falconry displays take place during the day and the birds of prey are kept outside for visitors to take pictures of although you are advised not to get too close. The day I was at Dunrobin the temperature in the garden was around 20 degrees Centigrade. A lawn sprinkler had been placed next to the Steppe Eagle and was slowly soaking the bird, which was spreading his wings out slightly as if enjoying the experience. The Bengal Eagle Owl had its own little garden shed and was sitting on the front step looking quite glum.    

This is an extract from my forthcoming book.