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The History of Kinbane Castle

Kinbane Castle is a castle of many names. Throughout time, it has been known as Caisleán Ceinn Bán, White Head Castle, and Kenbane Castle. The name derives from the Irish word for “white head”, referring to the limestone of the promontory. It is still, to this day, such a beautiful sight to behold.

The history of Kinbane Castle

While Kinbane Castle is now largely destroyed, it is still a wonderful site to visit. It is now a State Care Historic Monument sited in the townland of Cregganboy, in the Moyle District Council area. When standing on the site, you also gain views over Rathlin Island and Dunagregor Iron Age Fort.

The early history

A two-storey castle was built at the headland by Colla MacDonnell in 1547. However, in the 1550s it was damaged and mostly destroyed due to the English sieges under Sir James Croft. After being rebuilt, Colla MacDonnell died at the castle in 1558. His son, Gillaspick MacDonnell then inherited the castle.

Kinbane Castle
Kinbane Castle is now in a ruinous state. Source: Geograph.

Murder at the castle

The hollow situated below the castle, also known as Lag na Sassenach (Hollow of the English), saw plenty of murder during its time. During the 16th century, a garrison of English soldiers sieging the castle were surrounded and brutally killed.

Changing hands

Colla’s brother, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, later acquired the castle when he was trading property with Gillaspick. Afterwards, he handed it to the MacAlister’s in honour of their loyalty. The castle remained in the hands of the descendants of the MacAlister’s of Kenbane/Kinbane until the 18th century.

The current day

Nowadays, Kinbane Castle is a Scheduled Historic Monument. Not much of the castle remains and the path up to the castle is rugged. It is off the beaten track and the views are stunning.

You may enjoy reading about other Irish castles such as Killua Castle.

Castle, Ireland, Kinbane Castle, Green Castle
The castle is over 500 years old. Source: Pixabay.

Kinbane Castle Timeline

  • 1547- A two-storey castle is built at the headland by Colla MacDonnell
  • 1550s- The castle is damaged and mostly destroyed due to the English sieges under Sir James Croft
  • 1558- Colla MacDonnell dies at the castle and his son, Gillaspick MacDonnell then inherits it
  • 16th century- A garrison of English soldiers sieging the castle are surrounded and brutally killed
  • 18th century- The castle falls out of family hands

Kinbane Castle facts

  • The name comes from the Irish word for “white head”, referring to the limestone of the promontory
  • Throughout time the castle has been known as Caisleán Ceinn Bán, White Head Castle, and Kenbane Castle
  • Kinbane Castle is State Care Historic Monument
  • The first Kinbane Castle was destroyed
  • The castle has spectacular views over Rathlin Island and Dunagregor Iron Age

Who owns Kinbane Castle?

The castle is now in the hands of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council which means that it is in the hands of the people.

Long exposure shot of kinbane castle
Professional photograph of Kinbane Castle. Source: Flickr.

Tourism

Nowadays, you can visit the site of the castle. The remains of the castle sit in an amazing location with spectacular views. There is a path that wanders down to the sea that is quite safe, but the climb back can be challenging.

The ruins are incredibly interesting. It is also completely free. Nearby, you can visit Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges, Causeway Coastal Route, and Dunluce Castle.

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