Meet the Locals:
Visiting Glenarm Castle is like walking back into our past. Medieval conflicts of the Glens and Causeway Coast, giving way to an 18th-century elegance that transformed this achingly beautiful site into one of the treasures of Northern Ireland.
There has been a castle here since Anglo-Norman John Bissett was granted the Glens of Antrim back in 1242 but it was nearly another three centuries before the McDonnell clan claimed the castle for their own. And it wasn't until over a hundred yearfs after that Randal Arranagh McDonnell, the First Earl of Antrim, built his own castle on the site, which was unhelpfully burned by a visiting Scots army just a few years later.
It would be yet another hundred years or more before the wonderful building we see today began to take shape. For much of that time the McDonnells lived in their other great home, Dunluce Castle, whose ruins tower over the Atlantic Ocean along the coast from here. According to legend, they finally decided to vacate Dunluce when their kitchen hurtled into the crashing waves below, taking some members of staff with it!
It was the 5th Earl who transformed the ruin of Glenarm into one of Ireland's finest palladian houses. With some refinements, extensions and re-developments, that's pretty much what we see today under the ownership of Viscount Randall Dunluce and his wife, Viscountess Aurora
But it is only in recent years that the rest of us have been able to experience this extraordinary place, with its sumptuous castle and exquisite walled garden, for ourselves.
It has been under their watch that the early 1800s walled garden, created by Randall's ancestor, Countess Ann, has been developed into one of our leading visitor attractions and spectacular public events have finally opened up Glenarm Castle to the world.
One man who has played a part in this unique story is the Castle's Managing Director, Adrian Morrow, who fell in love with this place as a child.
Virtually growing up on the estate, Adrian was influential in staging the first open days here, when a curious public finally got inside to watch events like sheepdog trials.
With this success, they were encouraged to seek more ways to bring in visitors. The four acre walled garden with its ancient Irish Yews seemed an obvious attraction. Largely used as a sick bay for animals as well as a market garden, restoration was long and costly, not least of the vast Victorian glasshouse, but it ultimately put Glenarm on the map.
It would be impossible to do justice to the sheer vibrancy of the garden's colour, the tranquillity of its walks, or its sense of history but when you go donít miss the manmade mount.
From here, the diversity of colour is like a kaleidoscope and the garden's magical design flows into one. The castle can be glimpsed from here, as well as the fruit trees and the gorgeous glen beyond.
In recent years, with help from Adrian, Glenarm Castle has added the world-beating Glenarm Shorthorn Beef to its achievements and along with locally produced Glenarm Organic Salmon, both can be enjoyed at the elegant tea rooms here.
Now that the door has opened on this magical world, don't delay. Come and see the famous Tulip Festival in spring, their atmospheric Christmas celebrations and, well, just come when you can!