A History of Dunluce (abridged)

Hector McDonnell*

(with kind permission)



Dunluce castle is one of the most dramatic and romantic ruins in Ireland. The nature of its site, with cliffs isolating the promontory from the mainland on all sides, must have made it an ideal site for a fortress from the earliest times. However, the entire area of the fort was so intensively cleared, remodelled and built over during the 16th and 17th centuries that the only thing surviving from more ancient times is a souterrain, dating from around the 9th or 10th centuries. This tunnel is the only proof we have that the site was occupied before the coming of the Normans, around 1200.1

After the Normans arrived the site gradually gained in importance. The Normans held it as one of a string of manors along the north Antrim coast, and in the early 16th century it was the chief fortress of a family called MacQuillan, who controlled a large part of north county Antrim. In the 1550s the MacQuillans were ousted from Dunluce by a Scottish clan, the MacDonnells, who had already established their control over a neighbouring territory called the Glens of Antrim some time before.

It was under the MacDonnells, led by their wonderfully named leader, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, (Sorley the Fair Haired) that Dunluce achieved prominence, and became one of the most important centres of resistance in Ulster to the expansion of English control. The MacDonnells were an important factor in Ireland because they brought in large numbers of Highland fighting men for Irish chieftains to use in their interminable bouts of warfare, and Dunluce was one of the strongest fortresses held by a native family anywhere in Ireland. It was besieged several times, both by the English and the O’Neills, who were also jealous of the MacDonnells’ power. Later still, in 1589, the survivors of an Armada wreck, the Girona, were given shelter here, and guns from it were later mounted on the walls.

The two round towers and the curtain wall are sixteenth century, but nearly all the other buildings date from the early seventeenth century when two of the MacDonnells, father and son, held the title of Earl of Antrim in turn. They tried to turn the castle into an appropriate house for a nobleman with a large estate, and therefore built ranges of domestic buildings on the mainland and inside the castle itself. A little town was also developed just outside its walls. The display of wealth and grandeur increased after the second earl of Antrim married one of the richest women in England, the widowed Duchess of Buckingham, in 1635, and brought her to Dunluce in 1638 with many of their London fineries, tapestry and furniture. However the grand days of Dunluce did not last long. The MacDonnells were Catholics, and were involved both in the Irish rebellion of 1641 and the subsequent period of civil war in the 1640s. As a result they had to leave Dunluce, its village was burnt and in the 1650s the lands around Dunluce were divided amongst various Cromwellian settlers. The second earl did get his lands back after Charles II’s restoration, but his duchess had died, the main buildings at Dunluce had been dismantled and their best chattels auctioned off by the Cromwellians, so the castle must have looked almost as ruinous as it does today.

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The Place Name

The place name ‘Dunluce’ is itself something of a puzzle. ‘Dun’, the first element of the name, is straightforward enough. It comes from the Irish word Dún, which means a fort, but the second half of the name appears in many guises. In older Irish language texts the name is given as either Dún Lios or Dún Libhsi. Lios is another word for an enclosure or fort, which would give the name Dún Lios the inelegant meaning of ‘Fort-fort’, an unlikely and unnecessary reduplication, while all attempts to find a meaning for Libhsi have been unsuccessful.

Efforts have been made to relate Libhsi to various words in the Irish language, but these have all proved to be unsatisfactory, and it has therefore been suggested that Libhsi might be an old proper name. If this is the case, then Libhsi must be an otherwise unrecorded figure, as the nearest match to it is an obscure female Irish saint called Lumsech with no known associations with north Antrim. Nevertheless the available evidence does suggest that ‘Dún Libhsi’ is the closer of the two to the original form of the name. A Latin document of 1307 surveying the local parishes calls Dunluce ‘Dunkelisp’, a text of 1609 refers to its church as ‘de Sancto Cuthberto Dunlups,’ a third ecclesiastical document, of 1615, calls Dunluce Dunlippis, and a fourth, of 1645, has ‘Dunliffsia’. This last is close to the proper pronunciation of ‘Dún Libhsi’, (the ‘bh’ would have been pronounced like a ‘v’) but this gets us no nearer to knowing what Libhsi means. Much like the scant material evidence for the early history of Dunluce, the name of this fortress leaves us with many unanswerable questions. Is it, for example, merely a coincidence that the anglicised form of the difficult second element ‘luce’ is the same as that of the place name ‘Glenluce’ in Southwestern Scotland? Could it perhaps be one of the small number of words and proper names of the region surviving through place names from a pre-Celtic language? Speculations like these could go on for ever, but put quite simply, the origins of Dunluce’s name are unclear and uncertain.2

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Early Dunluce
Viking times and Norman Conquests

The souterrain mentioned above is the only proof we have that Dunluce was occupied in the early medieval period. It runs under the north tower. Souterrains are quite common, on Irish sites, during the 9th or 10th centuries, and indeed a number of artifacts from this period were found in the Dunluce example. Souterrains were constructed as complex, very low passages, opening into roomier storage areas, and usually had several twists and turns in them, presumably to confuse intruders. The one at Dunluce is relatively simple, possibly because it was hollowed out of rock, rather than by the usual method of constructing them in a trench with dry stone walls and a roof of slabs in the earth.

The building of souterrains was a response to the constant warfare of this early medieval period. They are found elsewhere, both in other parts of the British Isles and also in France, but they are remarkably numerous in Ireland, and particularly so in North Ulster. A legend says that there was a standard price paid to the professionals who built them either five cows or three women! Bizarre though this notion may be, it is at least some indication of the importance these communities attached to having well-constructed souterrains. Important possessions and people could be hidden in them if a site were attacked; having covered over the souterrains’ entrances the able-bodied could set fire to their houses and make their escape, hoping that anyone or anything left in the souterrains would not be found. They therefore had ventilation shafts, and at Dunluce there is one going through to the cliff face. The few pieces of pottery and ignite bracelets typical of the period that were found in this souterrain are the only proof we have that there was any occupation of this site prior to Norman times.

The Norman conquest of substantial areas of eastern Ulster took place in the late 12th century, and was largely the work of one man, John de Courcy. The Norman historian, Giraldus Cambrensis, called him “fair-haired and tall, with bony limbs and sinewy limbs. His frame was lanky and he had a very strong physique, immense bodily strength and an extraordinarily strong temperament.”  With his modestly sized, but well equipped, army of twenty-two knights and three hundred footmen de Courcy fought hard to establish himself against an extremely determined native Irish opposition. The major part of de Courcy’s conquest was in county Down, and southern county Antrim, but he also acquired a portion of the north Antrim coastline, including Dunluce.

Henry II recognised de Courcy’s conquests as the Earldom of Ulster, and he built two major stone castles from which to administer his lands, Carrickfergus and Dundrum, while his north Antrim territories were controlled from a large motte-and-bailey fort near Coleraine called Mount Sandel. Dunluce, at this stage, would probably have consisted of little more than the native Irish promontory fortress the Normans had conquered, plus whatever little rural communities sheltered in its vicinity. There were many of these promontory strongholds on the Antrim coast, relying for their defence on coastal cliffs to the seaward, while ditches and ramparts usually protected them from inland attack, and they acted as retreats of last resort for the leaders of the local population, and their attendant followers.3

Dunluce was undoubtedly one of the very best natural sites for a promontory fort, and its cliffs removed the need for any ditches. It appears in the first surviving set of accounts of the earldom, written in 1259, listed as one of the earldom’s north Antrim manors, along with Coleraine, Portrush, “Portkaman” and “Stanton” (both near Bushmills), and Dunseverick. These manors, with their lands, made a fairly continuous belt of Norman settlements along the coast, and certainly Dunluce, Dunseverick and Portrush were settlements established beside pre-existing promontory forts. Dunluce was originally the most profitable of them all, bringing in over thirteen pounds a year in rents, as compared to eleven from Coleraine, and ten from Portrush (the other manors produced less). However, this must be put in perspective, for the earldom’s major sources of revenue were the mills (bringing in more than eighty-four pounds a year) and the fisheries on the Bann, worth over twenty pounds a year in rents.

The Normans established manors like these ones throughout the areas of Ireland that they conquered, as the focal points of small, but developing, agricultural communities. Indeed the consequence of these local developments was a wave of rural prosperity, the like of which had not been seen in Ireland before. It would not have been feasible to create manorial settlements on rocks like Dunluce, and because of the lack of any material evidence we simply do not know what use, if any, the Normans made of the actual promontory fort.

The newly created manor of Dunluce, with its village and surrounding fields, must have been at a little distance from the fort which gave the settlement its name, while the fort itself could have been the community’s stronghold, resorted to in times of danger, much indeed as it had been in pre-Norman times as well. It would have always been hard to live in these forts for lengthy periods because of the lack of reliable sources of fresh water and other supplies.

There is one tangible piece of evidence to support the idea that the Norman manorial settlement was further inland. The ruined parish church, which is sited just to the south of the main road, and close to a little river, is dedicated to the north English Saint Cuthbert. Nothing certain is known about the origins of this church, but the parish of “Dunkelisp” is listed in a valuation of the diocese in 1307, as was the neighbouring parish of Portkaman. No further mention of it is made until 1609, when the parish appears in another assessment of the diocese, while in 1622 an ecclesiastical visitation described the church of St. Cuthbert at Dunluce as ruinous.

We can therefore safely conclude that the church building was old by the 1620s, and most probably medieval. It was highly unusual, possibly unique, for a medieval Irish church to be dedicated to this extremely English saint, but the explanation may be that the church was a Norman foundation. This would also suggest that its site indicates the general area of the Norman manorial settlement. The nearby stream would have been of great importance, both for domestic uses and also as a power source for a mill, an essential requirement of these communities.

The earldom’s next surviving accounts were written in 1353. Dunluce’s fortunes seem to have been declining, as it was now amalgamated with Dunseverick, and its revenues had shrunk away to two pounds eighteen shillings and tuppence, while Dunseverick’s had risen to more than eighteen pounds. The general impression given is that the Norman settlement was not living up to expectations. Both Portrush and Portkaman had had burgesses in the 1260s, in other words they had pretensions to becoming towns, but by the 1350s only tenant farmers are listed. Portrush at least remained an active little port, with fishing boats and trading links to Scotland.

Five years later, in 1358, the accounts show a modest improvement. Dunluce’s revenues had gone up to four pounds six shillings and eight pence, though no tenants are listed on its farmlands. Apparently Dunluce’s fortunes then got worse, as it is not mentioned at all in later accounts. All we can say therefore with any certainty about this period is that the Normans took over Dunluce when they conquered the surrounding area and set up a manor here, as they did throughout their areas of control, but that in spite of hopeful beginnings the Dunluce manor was only a modest success. Although there are no Norman remains here a recent excavation in the field to the southeast of the present farm buildings did find some thirteenth century pottery. The likelihood is that the Norman settlement was near where the ruined parish church stands today on the other side of the main road. The church was dedicated to the English Saint Cuthbert, which as I have said might be a Norman dedication. The church stands in an area which the Normans would have found attractive for a settlement, as it is surrounded by good agricultural land and has a river which could power a mill. The rock of Dunluce would at most have been a defensive position of last resort as it had been in pre-Norman times.4

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MacQuillans and MacDonnells 1513-1558
Clan Chieftains and Gallowglasses; MacQuillan’s House and Round Angle Towers

The Norman earldom of Ulster’s accounts cease to refer to Dunluce in the 1350s, and after that there are no further mentions of the place anywhere until the early 1500s. However, it is notable that the MacQuillan family, who were established in north Antrim as feudatories of the earls of Ulster in the 14th century, remained the dominant local power here until the 1550s. This was therefore a period of some continuity, if not actual stability. Presumably the Norman settlements all continued in some form, as indeed most of them do to the present day, though for lack of any hard evidence we do not know exactly what was going on here, or how the place looked.

However by the early 1500s the old promontory fort of Dunluce was transformed into a castle for the MacQuillans, a family of uncertain origin. They claimed that they had come from Wales, with the conquering Norman knights in the 12th century, and that they descended from a certain William, who was presumably of Norman origin. This may have been true, but it could just as well be the case that the MacQuillans were in fact a purely Irish family who wanted to associate themselves closely with their Norman overlords, and therefore invented a Norman origin for themselves. The Normans who invaded Ireland had indeed come from south Wales, so the MacQuillans’ explanation is at least plausible, though a nineteenth century historical novel complicated the issue by declaring that the MacQuillans were Norman knights called de Mandeville who had adopted this more Irish name. There is no truth to this story, but the idea stuck, and is often quoted as if it were fact.

The MacQuillans are first mentioned in Connaught as feudatories of the Norman de Burgo family (de Burgo was the original form of the name Burke) but after the de Burgos inherited the Ulster earldom in the early 1300s and moved north, the MacQuillans appeared inside this earldom, and settled in north Antrim. They became, effectively, a means of defending this northwestern flank of the earldom from external attack. The MacQuillans’ Antrim territory became known as the Route,5 and extended along the coast from Ballycastle to Coleraine, and inland as far as Ballymena. Many castles in North Antrim are associated with them, but Dunluce was the MacQuillans’ main coastal stronghold.

The descendants of the original Norman invaders and settlers in all parts of Ireland became so thoroughly hibernicised over succeeding generations, and identified themselves so strongly with Ireland, that in the end they were said to be “more Irish than the Irish”. The MacQuillans’ eastern neighbours are a good example of this. They were a Norman family called Bisset who were given the lordship of the Glens of Antrim by an earl of Ulster in the early 13th century, but by the 15th century they were known by the Irish name of MacEóin, and were closely related through marriage and alliance with the O’Neills to the south of them, and with their northern neighbours, the Clandonald in Scotland.

It would therefore have been completely normal that the MacQuillans, even if they had originally arrived here as part of the Norman earldom, were virtually indistinguishable from other Irish families by 1500. The Norman earldom was anyway in terminal decline by then, and the native Irish once again dominated affairs in northern Ulster, with the result that the MacQuillans were in the middle of some complicated local power struggles. 1513 was a particularly violent year. First, the O’Neills slew MacQuillan in battle, took Dunluce and installed their own MacQuillan candidate as the new chieftain. After this the O’Donnells retaliated. They stormed Dunluce, evicted O’Neill’s MacQuillan, and installed their own man instead, “Donal, son of Walter MacQuillan”.6

The big players in these endless rounds of local feuding were the O’Donnells, with their power base in Donegal, the O’Neills of central Ulster, and the English, whose North Ulster stronghold was Carrickfergus. The O’Donnells wanted to control the north Ulster coastline probably mainly because they derived a large revenue from the sale of fish and fishing rights to Spanish and French ships, and MacQuillan’s territory covered two important salmon rivers, the Bush and the Bann. (In 1632 62 tons of salmon were caught on a single day from the Bann, which gives some idea of these rivers’ value.) There were however other interested parties. The O’Cahans held the Bann’s west bank, and the English crown claimed the river’s whole fishery, as part of the old Norman earldom of Ulster. The O’Neills, meanwhile, regarded themselves as the rightful local territorial overlords, and deeply resented the expansionist efforts of the O’Donnells.

The English crown’s chief representative in Ireland in the early 16th century, the Lord Deputy, Lord Kildare, was determined to maintain this fishery. He stationed an English garrison at Coleraine, and leased out the fishing rights for the handsome sum of sixty pounds a year in 1519. In spite of various local disruptions Kildare’s fishery enterprise continued for about twenty-five years. However as a consequence of O’Donnell’s intervention in 1513 the MacQuillans became close supporters of the O’Donnells, and fought alongside them in various campaigns, mostly directed against the O’Neills and O’Cahans.

At this time the O’Donnells like many Irish chieftains employed Scottish Highland mercenaries called gallowglasses. These were trained fighting men wearing body armour, whose favourite weapons were two-handed swords and battleaxes, and who would be sent in to fight as the first stage of a set battle. Traditionally the O’Donnells used the MacSweeny clan from Kintyre as their gallowglasses, and had given them lands in northern Donegal.

As a consequence of their alliance with the O’Donnells the MacQuillans acquired MacSweeny gallowglasses at Dunluce. However the O’Donnells then decided also to employ Clandonald gallowglasses, for the Clandonald, or the MacDonnells as they are locally known, were the new, rising power of the area, and in the 1520s they had taken over the neighbouring territory of the Glens of Antrim from the MacEóin Bissets under their chieftain, Alastair Carrach MacDonnell. As a result of this decision the MacDonnells, MacSweenys and MacQuillans all worked together under the O’Donnells during their various military campaigns.

After twenty years of this arrangement, in 1542, the MacQuillans returned to their old alliance with Lord Kildare and the Ulster earldom. This had the immediate consequence that a joint force of O’Donnells, O’Cahans and O’Rourkes invaded the MacQuillans’ lands, and forced them to submit once more to the O’Donnells. Revenge, however, was soon extracted. MacQuillan made an agreement with the MacDonnells, launched a joint expedition with them across the Bann, took O’Cahan’s castle at Limavaddy and plundered his lands.

This triumph was also only brief, as the MacDonnells then decided to get rid of the MacQuillans’ MacSweeny gallowglasses, and ambushed them outside “MacQuillan’s house” (this is presumed to have been at Dunluce). The MacSweenys were duly slaughtered, which caused O’Donnell to intervene once more. He threatened another invasion of the area, and both the MacDonnells and MacQuillans were obliged to submit to him again. This local power struggle dragged on remorselessly. In 1544 the O’Donnells again attacked the MacQuillans, taking several of their strongholds, and in particular a fortified island in the Bann that controlled the fishery, so once more the MacQuillans and the MacDonnells combined forces, and attacked the O’Cahans, the O’Donnells’ chief local allies, on the west side of the Bann. Several O’Cahan castles and considerable quantities of booty were taken, so the O’Cahans appealed to the MacSweenys for help. Their combined forces retook the captured forts, beat MacQuillan in battle, and even recovered much of the booty.

The north Ulster coastline was strategically important, as well as being a potential source of good fishery revenues, but the costs of maintaining any effective military presence here were high, and some of the main protagonists gave up the struggle after 1545. The O’Donnells abandoned their attempts to dominate the Antrim coastline, the Kildare fishery interest disintegrated, the English garrison at Coleraine was withdrawn, and the MacQuillans found themselves severely weakened, particularly as the MacDonnells were eager to take advantage of the power vacuum, and were now determined to work their way deep into the MacQuillans’ territory.

The old Clandonald chieftain, Alastair Carrach MacDonnell, had recently died, but he had several extremely able and ambitious sons. A younger one, Coll, looked after the family’s Antrim properties, while the eldest, James, the new clan chieftain, ruled from Dunyveg on Islay over their entire territory, which consisted of Islay, some surrounding Scottish islands, a large part of the Mull of Kintyre, and the Antrim Glens. The brothers worked as a team, and aggressively expanded their territories. In consequence, when an English expedition reached north Antrim in 1551 they found the MacDonnells well established inside the MacQuillans’ territory, with their local headquarters in a castle which they had recently built on a promontory called Kenbane near Ballycastle. The English expedition besieged Kenbane, unsuccessfully, and reported back that the MacDonnells now held the entire Antrim coastline “betwixt M’Collyn’s howse and Bealfarst”.

Coll MacDonnell was married to MacQuillan’s daughter, and a tale preserved by local oral tradition gives us a vivid picture of the breakdown of the alliance between the two families. Soon after the marriage the two families joined forces to plunder O’Cahan’s country. Their expedition was extremely successful. They came back to Dunluce with much booty, and as winter was close MacQuillan offered the MacDonnells his hospitality until the following spring. Coll and his wife were entertained at Dunluce, and his clansmen were lodged with MacQuillan’s tenant farmers. This was a standard Irish method of supporting fighting men during wintertime. However the tenant farmers were also obliged to give board and lodging to the MacQuillans’ MacSweeny gallowglasses, and neither the MacSweenys nor the farmers enjoyed the situation.

“It so happened that the galloglagh (the MacSweeny gallowglass), according to custom, besides his ordinary, was entitled to a meather of milk as a privilege. This the highlander (the MacDonnell clansman) esteemed to be a great affront; and at last one asked his landlord ‘why do you not give me milk as you do the other?’ The galloglach made answer ‘Would you, a highland beggar as you are, compare yourself to any of MacQuillan’s galloglachs?’ The poor honest tenant, who was heartily weary of them both, said ‘Pray gentlemen I’ll open the two doors and you may go and fight it out in the fair field, and he that has the victory let him take the milk and all to himself.’ The combat ended in the death of the galloglagh, after which the highlander came in again and dined heartily.

“MacQuillan’s galloglaghs immediately assembled to demand satisfaction; and in a council which was held, where the conduct of the Scots was debated, their great and dangerous power, and the disgrace arising from the seduction of MacQuillan’s daughter, it was agreed that each galloglagh should kill his comrade highlander by night, and their lord and master with them; but Coll McDonnell’s wife discovered the plot, and told it to her husband. So the highlanders fled in the night time, and escaped to the island of Raghery (Rathlin).”

Letters written from two English expeditions to north Antrim in the 1550s reveal a little more. In the autumn of 1556 the new Lord Deputy, Lord Sussex, brought a military expedition into the area, and reported that the MacDonnells had taken over further large parts of the MacQuillans’ territory. A year later, in 1557, he came north again, and this time wrote that he had been obliged to offer his protection to MacQuillan, as he had recently been “banished from house and home” by the MacDonnells. We can therefore say with some confidence that the MacDonnells must have seized Dunluce not long before Sussex’s expedition of 1557.

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The MacQuillans’ Buildings at Dunluce

None of the castle’s buildings can be dated with any precision, but probably some important parts of the castle do date back to the MacQuillans’ time. In particular there are the two round angle towers. These are peculiar structures, as it was highly unusual to build round, rather than square, towers in the sixteenth century, though there are a couple of similar ones in the South of Ireland which probably date from the 1540s. The many gun loops which are an integral part of the south-eastern tower indicate that it cannot predate the early 16th century, when guns first became generally available here. An O’Donnell has the questionable distinction of being the first recorded Irishman to kill someone with a gun, an O’Rourke, in the 1480s, and another O’Donnell received a shipload of guns in 1517. As it was this O’Donnell who installed “his” MacQuillan in Dunluce in 1513, it might even be that he supplied the guns that dictated the tower’s need for loopholes.7

I suspect that there are also the remains of an important one-storey hall in the Inner Ward dating from the MacQuillans’ time. The building on the eastern side of this ward was originally a metre wider, and was an unusually tall one-storey structure, while its well preserved eastern wall uses Giant’s Causeway blocks in the same way as the Inner Ward’s outer wall, suggesting that it is contemporaneous with the original construction of this area of the castle, probably in the early 16th century, though possibly somewhat earlier. It would have been a matter of necessity to keep any domestic building as far away as possible from the most militarily active parts of the castle, so this Inner Ward would have been the best site for any such buildings.

Dunluce seems to be referred to as ‘MacQuillan’s House’ in the surviving early 16th century accounts. Gaelic households of any social significance placed a lot of importance on the maintenance of their feasting halls, and presumably ‘MacQuillan’s House’ would have had a substantial hall. However we must remember that the MacQuillans were originally established in North Antrim as part of the Norman earldom of Ulster’s structure. As the inheritors of this part of the earldom they might have wanted to preserve something of the manorial organisation at Dunluce. It would have been a source of some local power, even if the manor itself was by then more theoretical than real.

Thus, MacQuillan’s House may have been put up inside the stronghold of Dunluce because of the need to withdraw from the old manorial site. It has been recently suggested that the foundation-trench of a rectangular building 14.8m x 11m. that has been found inside the Manor House might be the MacQuillans’ hall house. The width of these foundation trenches is narrow for a stone hall, so this could have been a wooden-framed structure. It must have been gone by the late sixteenth century when the loggia was erected nearby, as this would have required an open area or courtyard in front of it, but that is all one can say with any certainty about this building.8

*About the Author

The Hon. Hector McDonnell, educated at Eton and Oxford, where he studied history, is the youngest son of the thirteenth Earl and Countess of Antrim. He was born in 1947 in Belfast and raised at Glenarm in Co. Antrim.

Hector, an award winning Irish contemporary realist painter and etcher,  has written extensively on McQuillan and McDonnell history. His publications include The Wild Geese of the Antrim MacDonnells; Ireland’s Other History; and an illustrated series; The Holy Hills and Sacred Places of Ireland, The Irish Rounds Towers and Saint Patrick.

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  1. I refer throughout this piece to the “Normans”, for brevity’s sake. These 12th century invaders of Ireland are often called Anglo-Normans, as although they were of Norman stock they had been settled in England and Wales for over a hundred years before coming to Ireland. They conquered and settled more than half the island, and their conquests in the North, which were primarily in the counties of Down and Antrim, were then turned by the English crown into a feudal lordship, the earldom of Ulster.
  2. Reeves, Ecclesiastical Antiquities, pp. 74-7, & 283; Rev. J. O’Laverty, The Diocese of Down and Connor, Dublin 1887, vol. IV pp. 273-286
  3. F.X.Martin, John Lord of Ireland in A New History of Ireland, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1987, vol. II pp 132-6; Giraldus Cambrensis, The Conquest of Ireland, ed. A. Scott & F. X. Martin, Dublin 1978
  4. T. E. McNeill, Anglo-Norman Ulster, Donald Publishers Ltd., 1980 pp. 68-9, 81, 137, 138; Colin Breen, Dunluce Castle, history and archaeology , Four Courts Press, 2012, pp 29 – 31. There is one other County Antrim dedication to St Cuthbert, a holy well on the coast near Garron Point..
  5. The name “The Route” or “Rúta” seems to be a Gaelic version of the Norman-French word “Route”, meaning road. It possibly refers to the ancient slí, or road, which supposedly started in Tara and ran through this area. It ended at Dunseverick on the Antrim north coast.
  6. Annals of the Four Masters, ed. O’Donovan, see year 1513.
  7. O. Kerrigan, Castles and Fortifications in Ireland 1485-1943, Cork
  8. Colin Breen op. cit. pp 56-62; H. McDonnell, The Battle of Orra and the Fate of the MacQuillans, in Familia, pub. Ulster Hustorical Society, 1996. The MacQuillans were active builders circa 1500. Apart from the work they did at Dunluce they also founded and built the friary of Bonamargy, near Ballycastle, at about this date.