LOCATED around 100km from Belfast, on the northern coast of Northern Ireland, Dunluce Castle is thought to have been C. S. Lewis’ inspiration for the great castle of Cair Paravel in the Chronicles of Narnia series.
Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1898 and lived there until he was nearly 10 years old, when, following his mother’s death, he was sent to school in England. Despite his move across the Irish Sea, he remained fiercely Irish, and visited his homeland many times during his life. He acknowledged in a letter to his brother that the area around Carlingford Lough, also in Northern Ireland, was his image of Narnia, and, having spent time on holiday at the coastal town of Portrush as a child, it is likely that nearby Dunluce Castle became another inspiration.
The first records of Dunluce Castle date back to 1513, when it was owned by the MacQuillan family; however, within 60 years it had been taken over by the MacDonnells, whose descendants remain the owners of the castle to the present day. Like Cair Paravel, Dunluce Castle is situated directly on the coast, a position that served it well in protecting it from attack. Legend has it, however, that the sheer cliff face behind the castle proved less beneficial when the entire kitchen, along with its staff, collapsed into the sea and were never recovered.
Following the Battle of the Boyne, in which the MacDonnell clan fell from power, Dunluce Castle was left uninhabited and fell into disrepair. Although the castle was no longer home to living people, numerous ghost stories linger within the ruins. Of these, the most famous is that of Maeve Roe, daughter of Lord MacQuillan. Refusing to marry the man her father had chosen, Maeve waited for her true love to rescue her from the castle. They stole away by boat, but the waves destroyed their escape and they were dashed upon the rocks and drowned. Like the spirits of the Narnians trapped within the White Witch’s statues, Maeve’s spirit remains in the castle, and can, at times, be heard screaming for her lost love.
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Physical address: 87 Dunluce Road, Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Phone number: (028) 2073 1938
Business hours: Open daily; admittance outside of business hours at own risk. April – October: 10.00 – 18.00; 31 Oct – 30 Nov: 10.00 – 17.00; 1 Dec – 31 Jan: 10.00 – 16.00; 1 Feb – 31 March – 10.00 – 17.00 (last entry 30 mins before closing)
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