Featured image of Glenarm Castle

The History of Glenarm Castle

LocationGlenarm, County Antrim, Northern Ireland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byClan MacDonnell
Official WebsiteGlenarm Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Weddings, Corporate Events, Stays, Filming)

Glenarm Castle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, has been the family seat of the MacDonnell family, The Earls of Antrim, since the early 17th century. The castle was first built by Randal MacDonnell, the 1st Earl of Antrim, in 1636 as a country house which was later ‘Gothicized’ in 1799. The current and 15th Earl of Antrim currently resides in Glenarm Castle with his wife Aurora, Lady Antrim, and two children.

History of Glenarm Castle

The MacDonnell family came to Glenarm from Scotland in the late 14th Century when John Mor MacDonnell married Marjory Bisset, who was heiress, then to the Glens of Antrim. They came from Scotland to take up lands on the Antrim coast. Their castle lay on another side of the Glenarm River, where the village stands today. The advantageous marriage brought a shift in power to the MacDonnell clan, who then had control over five estates on the northern coast between Antrim and Dunluce.

Built by Randal MacDonnell in 1636, Glenarm Castle was burnt by Scott Covenanter’s army, who were attacking the MacDonnell family in 1642. The castle remained in ruin for ninety years post this event. The castle was again built to its former glory in 1756, and since then, many renovations have taken place to maintain the castle and the estate.


Glenarm Castle had seen significant modifications and revisions since 1756 when the 5th Earl of Antrim employed Christopher Myers, an English engineer, to rebuild the ruin. Myers renovated the ruined castle into a Palladian Mansion, which looked magnificent and glorious. The front of the castle had an unconventional appearance as the entire arrangement consisted of only three Venetian windows and pyramid-shaped roofs on either side. The lime trees arch over the driveway were planted, and gardens were organized in a walled enclosure. However, in 1799, the new successor decided to gothicize the castle and demolish the unconventional changes made to the front of the castle.

In 1813, another round of renovations were made by William Morrison of Dublin at Glenarm Castle. The significant addition made to the castle was the river wall. He also built the Barbican Gatehouse similar to one he had created for Borris House in County Carlow.

In 1929 an unfortunate fire struck the main block, which resulted in unimaginative renovations in the 1930s and the loss of the Gothic window. However, in 1934, the 13th Earl of Antrim married a professional sculptor who then made sculptures for the Halls and the castle rooms with her interpretations of classical mythology and family history.

Glenarm Castle”, by GlenarmCastle, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Movie Features

Five Minutes of Heaven (2009) – Glenarm Castle has been extensively featured in the film Five Minutes of Heaven starring Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt, and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Glenarm Castle open to the public?

Yes, Glenarm Castle is open to the public from near and far and attracts 100,000 visitors annually. The castle, having a history of more than 400 years, is one of the most promising historic castles and estates standing today. The major attractions at the estate are enchanted walks in the Walled Garden, homemade food in the Tea Room, freshly made Gelato ice cream in The Milk Parlour, and exceptional deals in The Castle Shop, The Byre, and Shambles Workshop.

  • Can you stay in Glenarm Castle?

Yes, Glenarm Castle provides you the prestigious opportunity to stay at its luxurious Ocean View Pods. Recently named one of the top 10 places to stay in the ‘Irish Independent Fab 50’, the Ocean View pods are located just a 2 minute walk away from the Glenarm Castle Estate.

  • Can you get married in Glenarm Castle?

– Yes, Glenarm Castle provides the venue for the perfect fairy tale wedding of every bride’s dreams. The castle is available for wedding ceremonies and drinks receptions for up to 90 guests, overseen by the Castle Butler.

Have you visited this castle before?? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!!
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