baltoy2_320-1395265 More Images

Above is a view of Ballintoy village with Runkerry Head in the background. Ballintoy is a quiet sleepy little village nestled within the shadow of Knocksaughey hill which gives shelter against the harsh winter winds and creates a beautiful backdrop in the summer. The road into the village winds it’s way down Knocksaughey hill passing by the entrance to Larryban and Carrickarede Rope Bridge, continuing past a couple of pubs where you can quench your thirst for a few moments before turning right on to the harbour road. Ballintoy’s hidden beauty is found at the end of the harbour road where you will find a small beach and a limestone harbour.


The first Ballintoy harbour was built in the eighteenth century by a trickster of the name ‘Graceless’ Stewart to allow the shipping of cheap coal to Dublin. In recent years the harbour has been upgraded and is very popular with fishermen and deep sea divers alike. There is beautiful little limestone built cafe at the harbour and nearby a footpath along which you can walk around the headland to Whitepark Bay. In the harbour there is an old lime kiln which you can drive/walk up onto and eat you picnic.


Ballintoy is about 6 miles west of Ballycastle on the B15 coast road. The harbour road is on the west side of the village.


The MacDonnells

Ballycastle has existed for centuries and in the past it was known as Somhairle Buidhe (Sorley Boy) MacDonnell’s town. Sorley Boy was born in 1505 in Dunanyie fortress at what is now known as Castle Point. Sorley Boy’s father Alexander MacDonnell, descendant of King John of the Isles, with his wife Catherine MacIan reigned over Dunyveg and the Antrim Glynns as Lord until he died peacefully in Dunanyie fortress. Sorley Boy was not an only child, infact there where possibly five other brothers James, Angus, Colla, Alexander, Donnell Gorme and at least three sisters. James as the eldest son inherited in 1546 the title of ‘Lord of Dunyveg and Antrim Glynns’ but decided to return to his native Scottish Isles accompanied by his wife Agnus Campbell leaving Colla ruling in his absence. Colla had married Eveleen MacQuillan keeping the previous rulers the MacQuillans at peace for the present, he also had two sons Gillaspick and Randal.

In 1551 the Clandonnell banner dominated over the Route and Glynns of Antrim, the government saw the Scots in Ireland as a political threat and attempted to halt the expansion by arresting Sorley Boy and placing him in Dublin Castle. The government also sent James Croft with four ships to the North Channel to land on Rathlin Island and capture Colla MacDonnell, unfortunately Colla captured Bagenall and Cuffe from the invasion force and ransomed them for the release of his brother Sorley Boy. Defeated and desperately seeking compensation for the loses he had sustained Croft then turned to Kinbane Castle which he blasted with canon leaving it indefensible. Colla returned and must have repaired the remains as he lived at Kinbane until his death in 1558.

James then handed the Lordship over to Sorley Boy and when Gillaspick son of Colla came of age Sorley Boy decided to mark the occasion by ordering a celebration of Public Games in Ballycastle. Amongst the events was bull-fighting that Gillaspick tried and unfortunately the animal got the better killing him before his staff could distract the bull. Sean O’Neill had been strongly coerced into feuding with the MacDonnells by the English Queen Elizabeth who felt threatened by, and hated both of them, and sought to save money by having them fight each other.

In 1565 after a fierce battle Angus MacDonnell was slain and James & Sorely Boy MacDonnell were captured by Sean O’Neill. Sean O’Neill demanded a ransom for the release of James whom he had placed in the dungeons of Dunluce Castle at one stage, unfortunately for O’Neill James died from a festering battle wound before the ransom could be paid. James’s death was very much lamented as he was a man distinguished for hospitality, feats of arms, liberality, conviviality, generosity, and bestowing of gifts, and there was not his equal amongst the Clan Donald at that time in Ireland or Scotland.seanstone300-1858625

Later, after inter Gaelic feuds O’Neill sought protection among the MacDonnells who seized their opportunity, near Cushendun, for revenge and shredded his body with daggers on the 2nd June 1567. A cairn is mounted in a wall just north of Cushendun, where Sean O’Neill met his end.

In 1575 Elizabeth I sent Essex to invade Antrim and Essex sent Norris to invade Rathlin island murdering women, children, the wounded, sick, old, and many pledges. Most men seeing their loved ones murdered as he watched helplessly from the mainland would have despaired, but Sorley Boy fought back and by 1584 he was once again master of Antrim. In 1586 the English settled their differences with Sorley Boy now aged eighty-one and so he lived in peace before dying four years later at Dunanyie finally being buried at Bonamargy Friary beside his brother James. In 1620, Sorley Boy’s son Randal MacDonnell was made Earl of Antrim. The Earldom of Antrim has remained in MacDonnell hands ever since.


Old Friends

I know this is a long shot but I am looking for members of the McHenry-Murray Families from Waterfoot and Glenarriffe.I spent some time around 1995 working for James and Kathleen McHenry and would love to get in touch with them all.

I recall that Kathleen had a brother called Alex Murray and James had a brother called Arthur.

At that time James and Kathleen ran Dieskirt Farm B&B.I originally came to them as a Veterinary Student on work experience in the Spring and ended up coming back that summer to work in Glenarriffe Tea House.PS I am qualified and all going well on the Veterinary front. I really look forward to hearing from some of them


Ballycastle Charters





env010-6261439 Email Tel: 0044 (0) 28 2076 2074 Christopher P McCaughan Claymore House 6 Quay Road Ballycastle

BT54 6BH


Tourist News

Causeway Hotel secured as National Trust takes over

Kenbane Footpath, Glens History CD, Ardclinis access – 24/11/01

NCN revamps website, Lammas Fair USA-Style – 07/11/01

Marconi Festival – 06/08/2001

Ballyeamon Camping Barn opens, Train journeys cut by 30 minutes – 26/06/2001

Ferry moves closer to docking,Weekend Walks – 20/02/2001

Craft Connections 2001 Project,Rathlin Hares to be Protected – 24/01/2001

New Year Promotion at Causeway, Local Books – 01/01/2001

Ballycastle to Campbeltown Ferry to return? Giant’s Causeway for Sale, Glenariff on the map, B&B’s of high standard,Schools light up Marina – 04/12/2000

Environmentally friendly Tourism, ‘From Glynn to Glen’ Book Launch – 12/10/2000

Steam Railway on schedule, Brand New Rope Bridge, Access to Giant’s Causeway resumed – 02/05/2000

Ferry reconciliation, Lammas Fair plans, Rathlin Investment – 25/04/2000

Seacat sponsors tennis championship, National Cycle Network Arrives – 19/06/2000

Antrim Coaster Launch, Causeway Rambler Launch – 06/07/2000


Dunluce Castle

dunluce-8683166 More Images

The interpretation of the name, which is conjectural, derives from dun-lois,  a combination of dun, ‘fort’, used adjectively and lois, the word normally translated as ‘ring-fort’. Perhaps the best rendering would be ‘fortified residence’.

This late-medieval and 17th-century castle is dramatically surrounded by terrifyingly steep drops either side, which would have been a very important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this romantic place where an early Irish fort once stood.

In the 1200’s Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, first built this castle at Dunluce.

The earliest features of the castle are two large drum towers about 9 metres in diameter on the eastern side, both relics of a stronghold built here by the McQuillans after they became lords of the district in the late fourteenth century.

It often came under siege, and in 1584 Sorley Boy MacDonnell(1505-1589) captured it when one of his men, employed in the castle, hauled his comrades up the cliff in a basket. Sorley Boy came into some booty (some of which can be seen in the Ulster Museum in Belfast) in 1588 when the Spanish Armada treasure ship Girona was wrecked by storm off the Giant’s Causeway. The money was used to modernise the castle but in 1639 the kitchen fell into the sea and carried away the cooks and all their pots. After this it was abandoned by the MacDonnell clan.


  • Guided tours available
  • Visitor Centre
  • Shop
  • Limited wheelchair Access
  • Toilets / Disabled Toilets
  • Picnic Area
  • Parking outside castle


WINTER OPENING HOURS (1st October – 31st March) Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm Open Sunday 2pm to 4pm

Admission: Adult – £2.00, Ch/OAP – £1.00, Child under 4 – Free, Group Rate – (10 or over) £1.00 per person

SUMMER OPENING HOURS (1st April – 30th Sept) Open Monday-Saturday 10am to 6pm Open Sunday (Apr, May, Sept) 2pm to 6pm Open Sunday (June, July, Aug) 12noon to 6pm

Admission: Adult – £2.00, Ch/OAP – 1.00p, Child under 4 – Free, Group Rate – (10 or over) £1.00 per person

Last admission 30 minutes before closing time. In special circumstances the site may be opened on request outside of these hours. Please contact the numbers below to discuss your requirements.

Booking and queries: For information on visits to Dunluce Castle, please contact EHS on 028 20 73 1938.

There is an entrance gate from the car-park into sloping mainland court which is linked to the main buildings on the rock by a narrow footbridge. There are some modern surfaces but there are also areas of original paving and cobbles, which will make access to parts of the site difficult for wheelchair-users.