Antrim’s most beautiful and haunting tour sites – Dunluce Castle
One of many tragic tales to come out of this country involves one of Antrim’s most beautiful and haunting sites – Dunluce Castle. The castle sits upon a rocky basalt outcrop, 100 feet above the raging iron-grey ocean below. It is widely recognised as being Ireland’s most picturesque castle. However, the beautiful, tranquil ruins of Dunluce have seen their fair share of horror. Hundreds of years ago, as everybody was going about their daily lives in the castle, an entire section of the kitchens broke and fell into the sea below, sending many innocent souls to their deaths on the jagged, unforgiving ocean rocks that awaited them.
This tale however, comes to us from the McQuillan family, who lived in the castle back in the 1500s. Lord McQuillan’s daughter, Maeve who was very strong-willed and independent had fallen in love with an officer in her father’s army. A man called Reginald O’Cahan. Unfortunately, when her father discovered that she had secretly been seeing a lowly officer in his army, her father was furious. This was not a good match for a lord’s daughter and the whole thing had brought shame on the family. As a punishment Lord McQuillan locked Maeve in the North East tower of the castle. However, one evening, Reginald bravely climbed the wall of the tower, risking his life, risking being dashed on the rocky outcrop more than a hundred feet below and was able to rescue Maeve from her confines. Reginald climbed back down the wall of the tower with Maeve on his back and the two of them fled to the nearest beach where they stole a small row boat and hoped to escape Dunluce and their troubles forever.
Unfortunately, God was not on their side that evening, as a terrible storm arose. It rolled in so quickly from the North that the two young lovers were too far from shore to start making their way back. The waves picked up their little boat and tossed it further and further towards the rocky outcrop on top of which sat the grey, looming castle. Although both of them struggled against the waves it brought them closer and closer, until a single wave picked both of them up and dashed both their soft bodied onto the sharp, jagged rocks at the foot of the cliff. Both of them were crushed on the rocks that evening. It is said that on stormy nights you can hear Maeve wailing in the northeast tower to this very day and if you look out into the storm you will see her roaming around, still searching for her long lost love.