Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland

Jo Cahill Authors' Lives, Literary Worlds 2 Comments

Visit Dunluce Castle, inspiration for Cair Paravel. Northern Ireland.

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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An audio tour of the Dunluce Castle ruins is available by app for Apple and Android devices.




Website: http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Dunluce-Castle-Medieval-Irish-Castle-on-the-Antrim-Coast-Bushmills-P2819

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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About the Author

Jo Cahill


Jo's love of travel has taken her to far flung countries across the globe, and her love of books has seen her exploring even more distant times and places. Beyond the Lamp Post brings together these two passions, helping readers and travellers to explore the lives of their favourite authors and characters, through the places that inspired them.

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Comments 2

  1. I so have to go here! I’m one of the rare people who are not into castles. At all. But because of the literary association with this one, it’s a must. Plus I’ve never been to Northern Ireland somehow. I’ll always take any excuse to visit someplace new. HA!

    I love these. Keep ’em coming.

    1. Post

      I’ve been to Ireland, but not to Northern Ireland either so it’s on my list as well. There are so many old castles and ruins on the Emerald Isle that I’m sure they will have been inspiring writers left, right and centre. Hopefully, I’ll come across some others in my research and you’ll be able to make it a road trip!

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