Featured image of Red Bay Castle

The History of Red Bay Castle

LocationGlenariff, County Antrim, Northern Ireland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsNo
Rooms AvailableNo

Red Bay Castle is a beautiful ruin of the previously charming castle prominently on the peak between Cushendall and Waterfoot. It is visible from the Antrim Coast Road, overlooking the Irish Sea towards Scotland.

History of Red Bay Castle

Red Bay Castle was built by John and Walter Bisset in the 13th century as a fort constructed on an Anglo-Norman motte. The family came to Antrim after they were banished from Scotland for the murder of their uncle in 1224. In 1399, the wedding of Eoin Mor MacDomnhaill to Marjorie Bisset gave the McDonnells the claim to the Glens, and subsequently, they became the owners of Red Bay Castle.

Red Bay Castle was built with stone by Sir James McDonnell in 1561. In 1565, Shane O’Neill attacked the McDonnell family and burnt the castle and the small town surrounding it. Sir James and Sorley were taken prisoner, and Sorley was released when Shane came for ill-fated negotiations at Cushendun in 1567. When the castle was inherited by Randal, the first Earl of Antrim, he restored the castle to its formal glory in 1605 due to the obligation to have a garrisoned castle in each barony. Two generations of the Stewart family of Red Bay held the castle as constables until it was ultimately reduced to its present state of ruin by Cromwellian forces in 1652. Red Bay Castle is of great local historical importance by being the logo of the Glens of Antrim Historical Society.


The ruins of Red Bay Castle
The ruins of Red Bay Castle”, by Eric Jones, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The present remains of Red Bay Castle are believed to have been built on this site by Sir James. Presently, the castle consists of one wall of a two-story Tower House constructed of local sandstone measuring 12m by 7m externally and 6m in height. The minute details of the castle available to be seen are decorative stone moulding at the top and the beam-holes for the floor timbers. Though it resides today in private lands, the view from the castle holdings of the landscape is said to be unparallel.

The rocky shore of Red Bay Castle
The rocky shore of Red Bay Castle”, by Anne Burgess, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

Rate the Castle

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

Leave a Reply