Type of Site: Castle
Map Number: 5 Reference: 113:419
Marked on Map: Yes
Access: Visible through fence of caravan park. Closer inspection by cliff path which can be very dangerous.
Distance from Road: 30 Metres from car park
Terrain: Paths and grass
A promontory fort of the usual North Coast style, Dunineany is notable principally as the birthplace of Sorley Boy McDonnell. Alexander McDonnell exiled by James of Scotland retired to his Irish estates and built Dunineany between 1500 and 1530. Sorley Boy, soldier, diplomat and founder of the dynasty of the Earls of Antrim certainly regarded Dunineany as his home and on his succession as clan chief in 1558 made it his principal residence until his death in 1589. The religious house of the McDonnells was BUNAMARGY FRIARY, but there seems to be a connection in the building technique here and that at TEMPLASTRAGH in the very similar use of polygonal blocks on their sides.
The clifftop here runs 45-60 metres above the sea and the castle is built on a triangular promontory of which an area 46 metres by 28 metres survives. The main defence was a rock cut ditch which is still about 4 metres deep despite being filled with the debris of the ruined defending wall. There is little remaining of this wall except for about 5 metres on either side of the entrance. This is the front of a stout blockhouse which originally stood two stories high and had two strong doors. There would have been a drawbridge to the land. Behind the defending wall, traces of at least three rectangular buildings are still evident. Unless a particularly close view is required, the best vantage point is from the grounds of the caravan park which is immediately adjacent to the castle. The name of the castle derives from Dun An Aonaigh Fort of the Fair an interesting point given the long tradition of the Oul Lammas Fair in nearby Ballycastle.