We visited this castle in 2008.
Kinbane Castle, locally also known as Kenbane Castle, lies on a narrow limestone promontory running
out into the sea, north west of the town of Ballycastle, in County Antrim, in Northern Ireland.
Kinbane Castle was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonnell, younger brother of the notorious Sorley Boy
MacDonnell, during the height of the MacDonnell supremacy along the coast. The name Kinbane means
White Head and refers to the white limestone on which the castle stands.
In 1551 Kinbane Castle was sieged and damaged by English troops under the Lord Deputy, Sir James
Crofts, in the course of an expedition against the Macdonnells. In 1555 the castle was partly
destroyed by the English due to cannon fire. There is a large sea cave in the rock underneath the
castle named 'Hollow of the English' where, during the 1500's, a group of English soldiers laying
siege to the castle were trapped and massacred.
After having been rebuilt Kinbane Castle was again occupied by the MacDonnell's. After Colla
MacDonnell died in 1558, the castle was inherited by one of his sons, Gillaspic. Sorley Boy took
over Kinbane when he exchanged another property with Gillaspic. The castle was then presented to the
MacAlister family by Sorley Boy as a reward for their loyalty to the MacDonnell clan.
It is said that Kinbane Castle was inhabited until the 1700's and the last person to inhabit the
castle was a mrs. MacAlister. At a later date Kinbane castle and the fishery there were purchased
by the Woodside family of Carnsampson.
At present the castle is little more than a single ruined tower; beyond it was an enclosure that
took up half the island. This is really one of my favorites in Northern Ireland. It is a little of
the beaten track and the views are stunning. Also the steep cliff walk down to the castle is great
although access to the castle was closed when I visited.
A 19th century drawing of Kinbane Castle.
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