Part of a tower is all that remains of Dunseverick Castle which was destroyed by a Scottish army that came here in 1642 under the command of General Munro to combat the rebellion which started in 1641 and was led by  Rory O'More, Lord Conor Maquire, Hugh MacMahon and Sir Pheilim O' Neill, the conflict lasted until the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell conquered the country between 1649-52. The ruin you see today was probably built by the MacDonnell clan who had establish a power base along the north coast during the 1500s, their control at its peak stretched from Red Bay to Dunluce Castle.

 

Surrounded by the ocean on three sides, Dunseverick was also a key ancient site in Ireland, one of the royal roads from Tara, seat of the Kings of Ireland is believed to have run to here as well as Lissanduff at Portballintrae.  The site was originally founded by Sobairce (1150 BC) who ruled Ireland with his brother Cermna Finn, he built a strategic fortress here to rule the north, the location is named after him - Dunsobairce (Fortress of Sobairce) now Dunseverick.

 

Many heroes of Irish legends such as Cuchulain, Queen Maeve and Turlough are associated with the north coast. A story given to me by the late Bertie McKay, a local historian and fisherman from Portbraddon, explores more of the adventures of Turlough. Another interesting fact for anyone who walks up to the castle and takes in the breathtaking view to Portmoon - if you do, then you can rest safe in the knowledge that you have walked in the footsteps of Patricius (Saint Patrick) as it is known he visited Dunseverick on several occasions for baptisms and on one of these occasions he baptized a local man called Olcan, who became Bishop of Armoy and later a Bishop of Ireland, Olcan died in 480 AD. He may well have baptised  St. Gobain here to.

 

A well exists on the headland and is named after St. Patrick, it is reputed to be be one of the key  'holy' wells of Ireland, though sadly, the christening stone and the seat that he used still lies somewhere on the ocean bed having been tumbled into the sea when the castle site was attacked and destroyed during the 1641 rebellion.

 

Uninhabited and sheltered amongst basalt islets, the rugged beauty of Dunseverick harbour captures all that is synonymous with the North Antrim coast. It is a magical place to wander in the early evening when the sunlight shines from the west - as evening falls and shadows deepen, if you look closely on the shoreline half way down the road towards the harbour, you will see a large rock at the water edge which takes on the resemblance of a figure holding a child.

 

The harbour is where many local people began their emigration trail during the 1800's, being rowed out to catch a passing schooner bound for Glasgow or Londonderry where they would then embark on one of the many emigrant ships to Australia, New Zealand or the Americas. You can walk from the harbour to Portbraddon along a winding path that hugs the cliff and shoreline, past the old salt fields and kelp walls that once sustained local families. (currently that path is closed due to a cliff rock fall)

 

Between the harbour and Portbraddan, on the cliff top lies ancient Templastragh (Temple of the Flame) said to have been founded by St. Gobain in 648 AD. Gobain was a local man known for his building skills and was responsible for many fine buildings in the area including another church in Glenshesk - it is said that a divine light guided him to where he finally built the church of Templastragh and which the name is descriptive of.

 

The ruins we see today date to the 1600's, the original site of Templastragh was a few hundred yards inland. A stone in the gable wall is carved with an early Christian cross and believed to have come from the original church. The small, beautiful and pictureque 'church' in Portbraddon referred to as the smallest church in Ireland, was once a pig sty and part of a small farm belonging to the McKays. The myth of the church was created to such a degree that the authorities listed it. Bertie McKay of Portbraddon fought for years to have it delisted, which they eventually did.