Place:Dunluce, County Antrim, Northern Ireland


Alt namesDoonliss
Coordinates55.18906°N 6.53275°W
Located inCounty Antrim, Northern Ireland
Contained Places
source: Family History Library Catalog

Historical description

Extracts pertaining to local and historical information are taken from a Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis published in 1837.

DUNLUCE, or DOONLISS, a parish, in the barony of LOWER DUNLUCE, county of ANTRIM, and province of ULSTER, 6 miles (N. N. E.) from Coleraine, on the road to the Giants' Causeway; containing 3605 inhabitants. This parish, which gives name to the barony, was anciently called Portramon, and distinguished as the residence of the celebrated chieftain Mac Quillan, who was lord of a castle of which the original foundation is not precisely known. Mac Quillan, who was brave, hospitable, and improvident, unwarily suffered the Scots around him to increase in strength, till at length they expelled him from all his possessions; and Sorley Boy, brother of James Mac Donnell, having obtained possession of the district called the Glynnes, made himself master also of this place. But Sir John Perrot, the English lord-deputy, assaulted the intruder, and, after a vigorous resistance, drove him from the castle, in which he placed Sir Peter Carey, whom he thought to be a man of the English pale, as governor, with a garrison of fourteen soldiers. Sir Peter, who was in reality one of the Carews of the north, brought around him some of his own country and kindred, and unknown to the deputy discharged the English soldiers; two of his garrison, however, confederating with the party of Mac Donnell, drew up fifty of them by night into the castle, and these having taken possession "of the fortress by surprise, attacked and slew the governor and a few of his companions. On this event, which took place in 1585, the lord-deputy despatched to the assault of the castle an officer named Merriman, who slew the two sons of James Mac Donnell, and Alexander, the son of Sorley Boy, and so harassed the latter by driving away the vast herds of cattle which were his only wealth, that he surrendered Dunluce, and repaired to Dublin to make his submission, which was accepted; and on condition of his fidelity to the English crown, and payment of a tribute of cattle and hawks, he received a regrant of all his possessions, with the government of Dunluce castle. This family was afterwards ennobled by the title of Earl of Antrim; and in 1642, Gen. Monroe, commander of the Scottish army in Ulster, with a party of his forces, paid a friendly visit to the Earl, by whom he was hospitably received; but at the conclusion of the entertainment, Monroe gave the signal to his armed followers, who instantly made the Earl prisoner and seized the castle, and this act was followed soon afterwards by the seizure of all his possessions.

The parish, which is within a mile and a half of the Giants' Causeway, extends for a considerable distance along the coast, and, according to the Ordnance survey, comprises 9381 statute acres. The land is fertile and generally in the highest state of cultivation; the system of agriculture is in a very improved state; there is very little waste land, some excellent pasturage, and a bog of about 500 acres. Limestone abounds, and to the westward of Dunluce castle are the White Rocks lime-works, the most extensive in the North of Ireland. There are numerous quarries of basalt, and great quantities of flint are exported. Coal exists on the estate of John Montgomery, Esq., but no mines have yet been worked. The principal gentlemen's seats are Benvarden, that of J. Montgomery, Esq.; Seaport, of J. Leslie, Esq.; Bardyville, of Sir F. W. Macnaghten, Bart.; and the Cottage, of F. D. Ward, Esq. : there are also some elegant seabathing lodges at Ballintra. The manufacture of paper affords employment to 190 persons, who, with the aid of the most improved machinery, are engaged in making the finer kinds of paper for the English, Scotch, and home markets. A facility of conveyance for the produce of the quarries and limeworks, and for the various sorts of merchandise, is afforded by the small but commodious port of Ballintra. A fair is held annually on Nov. 12th, and petty sessions for the district every fortnight at Bushmills.

The living is a consolidated rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Connor, and in the patronage of the Bishop : the tithes amount to £369. 4. 7. The glebe-house was built by a gift of £400 and a loan of £300 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1812; the glebe comprises 20 acres. The church, a handsome edifice, situated at the extremity of the parish, near Bushmills, was erected by aid of a gift of £900 and a loan of £300 from the same Board, in 1821, on the site of an ancient church, which was a ruin in 1625. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or parochial benefice of Ballymoney; the chapel near Bushmills is a very small edifice. There is a place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the second class. About SO children are taught in the public schools, of which the parochial school is chiefly supported by the rector, and a female school was built and endowed by Mrs. Montgomery. There are also three private schools, in which are about 160 children and four Sunday schools. A dispensary was established at Bushmills in 1830, for the parishes of Dunluce, Billy, and Dunseverick. A loan fund was established in 1828, for which purpose the late Hugh Montgomery, Esq., gave £100. The ruins of Dunluce castle are remarkable for their extent and picturesque appearance, especially when viewed from the shore immediately below; the fortified parts occupy the summit of a rock projecting into the sea, and separated from the adjacent cliffs by a deep chasm, over which is an arch forming the only entrance, defended on one side by a wall only 13 inches in thickness; there appears to have been a corresponding wall in a parallel direction with the former, which together were probably the parapets of the bridge. The domestic apartments and offices, of which the remains are extensive, were situated on the main land, and though at a distance appearing only as a massive rugged pile, upon a nearer approach display characteristics of architectural beauty. Underneath the castle is a natural cavern forming a noble apartment, the walls and roof of which are of rude basalt. Near the castle is a very large Danish camp. Splendid specimens of opal, jasper, and cornelian are found upon the shore. Dunluce gives the inferior title of Viscount to the Earls of Antrim.