We recently reported that fencing had been erected around the grounds of Dunluce Castle due to health and safety reasons. A spokesperson for the Department of Communities at that stage in a statement said that it was of “paramount importance for both staff and the visiting public”.
At the time of this communication we were led to believe that works in question were not due to only health and safety reasons but for a much bigger project. After numerous emails to the department, we received the response this morning that they are intending that visitors will pay for entry at a point prior to access to the Mermaid’s cave. The spectacular Mermaid’s Cave is a huge cavern 25 metres below the castle and has always been free to access.
Ald. Norman Hillis commented: “I believe that Dunluce Castle is a great place to visit and that the many International visitors, as well as local visitors, have a really good experience at the Castle and that the staff there are very helpful and knowledgeable. I am told that entrance to the grounds has in the past been free as was entrance to the cave below but is now going to be charged for. I suppose given the high cost of maintaining historic sites such as the Castle, the Department needs to maximise their income. Up to now charges have been reasonable compared to some nearby visitor attractions like the Giant’s Causeway. If a new charging regime is to take place I hope some of the increased income will be used to give visitors an even better experience during their visit.”
A Spokesperson for the Department Of Communities this morning said: “The Department has reviewed the arrangements for the management of visitors at Dunluce Castle. This is a popular site, with another year of increased visitor numbers in 2017. Controlled access point to the castle complex – including the grounds and the lands at the cave below the castle – is now in the process of being changed, and it is intended that visitors will pay for entry at a point prior to access to the cave. This will support the safe management of visits to the site.”