Selling off the holiday home for £5 million

Dundarave Estate, close to the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, is historic seat of clan Macnaghten

A rare look inside Dunderave one of Northern Ireland's largest privately owned estates. Built in 1846 and located between Bushmills and the Giant's Causeway its on sale for £5million. Video: Bryan O'Brien

Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 00:00

Standing in the Great Hall of Dundarave in the village of Bushmills, on the north Antrim coast, Sir Malcolm Macnaghten cuts a lonely figure. Under the stony gaze of stout marble busts and gilded portraits of ancestors, he is preparing the historic seat of the clan Macnaghten for sale.

The estate, close to the Giants Causeway, has been used as a summer residence since the 1920s and Sir Malcolm says it no longer has any practical place in the lives of the remaining family.

Originally built between 1846 and 1849 to a classical Georgian design by Sir Charles Lanyon, Dundarave was planned as an alternative residence to the nearby Bushmills House, which no longer stands.

Off the vaulted vestibule entrance is the stunning Great Hall which was modelled on the Reform Club in London. Scaling the full height of the building a railed gallery landing tops marble-effect archways on each side of the perfect square. High above the decorative mantelpiece on Corinthian pillars, 20 cast-iron Doric columns support an ornate cupola pouring light down on the baronial hall. It’s certainly a departure from what you’d expect – even in the grandest of houses.

Childhood holidays

Though it is one of the largest privately owned estates in Northern Ireland, and the Republic for that matter, the house is not widely known. The first Macnaghten came from Scotland in the 16th century and served as secretary to the earls of Antrim, the O’Donnells. The lands they acquired included a large portion of the village of Bushmills, which the clan rebuilt in the late 1800s. Included in this sale through agents Savills is the 22,500sq ft house and 486 acres of land for £5 million (€6.2million).

Passed from generation to generation of Macnaghtens, who have long since settled in the UK, it is fondly recalled as a childhood holiday home.

Sir Malcolm remembers wreaking havoc racing bikes around the upstairs gallery when his grandmother was in residence. But Dundarave wasn’t always the first port of call for the Macnaghtens, who for many years opted instead for another slightly less grand Victorian Gothic property, closer to the sea at nearby Runkerry.


Sir Charles Macnaghten undertook a major renovation of the house in 1910, when it was completely rewired and replumbed. But soon afterwards tragedy struck when he died, and his only two sons were subsequently killed during the Battle of the Somme.

Dundarave has not had full-time residents since the 1920s, though it has occasionally been used as a shooting lodge or for family events. Last year the estate hosted an open day, and Sir Malcolm met older residents of Bushmills who said it was their first time seeing the house, though they had family who had worked there for many years.

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