Dunluce and Bushmills (9/5/2012)

Today we made our first McHenry connection by spending several hours at Dunluce Castle. Located on a beautiful outcropping overlooking the sea, the ruins continue to be a magnificent structure. It is fairly easy to see how it looked in its prime.   Patrick McHenry is recorded to have lived there. Long a strong hold of the MacDonnell’s (like most everything else at one time or another on the NI Coast), the castle was abandoned after the kitchen and the cooks fell off into the sea during a particularly bad winter in 1639. 

There is evidence there was a castle/fort at this location as early as the 1200’s but the primary structures were built in the mid 1500’s-1600’s. There remains evidence of many fireplaces, a huge stone over (similar to what we might see on Food Network cooking pizza), a latrine (honestly), the gate house and much more. We climbed down to see a cave that comes in under the castle wall (very pirate like and a place for escapes). 

The views were spectacular. It is easy to see why someone would want to live out on this point though I cannot imagine what it took to construct it. 

Somehow we missed the church St. Cuthburt’s so we will go back to look for that and the grave yard.

Dunluce Castle
Different elevation (and one of my favorites!)
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Coastline was magical!
Dunluce Cow! Huge!
Castle is well defined – fairly easy to figure out what is what!

On from there we ventured into Bushmills to the old distillery. First licensed in 1607 to produce Irish Whiskey, it is very much an art form. I found it particularly interesting that they have an acknowledged “single point of failure” in that they only have a single tank for fermentation. It is in use about 10 months of the year and down in the summer for cleaning and maintenance.  Our guide was very knowledgeable. We were interested in how the casks they use have been used once prior for aging bourbon, sherry, Madeira wine or port and how that impacts the final product. I was also interested to note that the testing of the product during the three distillation cycles was done visually and recorded by hand in huge ledgers.  

We had lunch there before our tour. It was as some of you have noted, ugly food – Irish Stew and soda bread, but very tasty and hit the spot and helped us keep to our plan of eating local stuff.

Came back, planned the rest of our week here, and had supper. It was a good day.

Should note that King James (same one who commissioned that translation of the Bible) is the king who licensed Bushmills to make whiskey!

Told Steve while we were standing looking out a “window” at Dunluce, that while we have seen and visited many castles over the years in our travels, the impact is different when you realize that you carry genetically via the bloodline something of folks who actually lived there. I had wondered if I would feel a connection. I did.

Still Choosing Joy!