Glenarm, a picturesque coastal town with a long and interesting history, has had many associations with Scotland over the centuries. At the beginning of the 17th century it was among the lands granted by King James I & VI to Randal MacDonnell, later to be Earl of Antrim. In 1637 it was noted that Glenarm was a port where merchants and pedlars from Scotland discharged their wares.
There had been an earlier castle in Glenarm, believed to have been where the present Baptist Church now stands. In the early 1600s, the MacDonnells built a new castle on the other side of the Glenarm River. An inscribed stone now in the Barbican reads: ‘With the leave of God this castle was built by Sir Randle McDonnell knight Erle of Antrim having to his wife Dame Aellis O’Nill in the yeare of our Lord God 1636’. The core of this structure remains embedded within the walls of the present Glenarm Castle which owes its appearance to nineteenth-century remodelling. Today, Glenarm Castle is the private home of Viscount Dunluce, a direct descendant of the original builder, and his family.
The Walled Garden is one of the oldest in Ireland and includes a fascinating collection of flowers, trees and shrubs, as well as a number of other interesting features, including a fountain, glass house and obelisk.
Across from Glenarm Castle is the Church of Ireland church which is the earliest known Gothick-style church in Ireland. Built in the 1760s it stands on the site of a Franciscan friary founded in the 15th century.
Glenarm Castle, 2 Castle Lane, Glenarm, County Antrim, BT44 0BQ
The Walled Garden and Tea Room are open every day from Easter until mid October. The Castle is occasionally open to the public (check website for details).