Next to the Abbey is Dunbrody Castle, and on this site also, lies a visitor centre opened by the Earl of Belfast, only son of the 7th Marquess of Donegall. The Castle garden is the resting-place for an intricate yew hedge maze. Made with 1,500 yew trees, and gravel paths, it is one of only two full size mazes in Eire. Around the outside of the maze lies a 9-hole pitch and putt course. Clubs can be hired in the shop. The Abbey and Castle are open to visitors to explore at will. Walks and picnic area available. Plants and shrubs are on sale during the summer. The Craft Shop houses a small museum, having as its centrepiece the Dunbrody Castle Doll’s House.
There is also a large range of items produced by local craftsmen on display throughout the season, including jewellery, stained & painted glass, wrought iron, cut glass, decorative candles, and a variety of woodware. The Traditional Tearooms and bakery at Dunbrody offers fresh Coffee/Tea, Sandwiches, Cakes, Teabracks and Minerals etc. It houses a well-stocked Information Point, with a wide selection of brochures from tourist attractions and services throughout the region. The History of Dunbrody Castle is clouded in the mists of time. However, it is thought that John Etchingham of Dunbrody Abbey, who died in 1650, built here “a good house of lime and stone”. In fact it is true that Dunbrody Castle is not a castle at all but a fortified House. John Etchingham built the House before 1641, though the southerly end of it is much earlier, possibly of the same vintage as the Abbey itself. However, on the breaking out of the 1641 Rebellion he was obliged to stop before the work was completed.
In addition, John Etchingham’s two sons died shortly after the Rebellion and having only his daughter Jane as his heiress, he probably did not care to finish it. Jane Etchingham subsequently married the Second Earl of Donegall, whose descendants own the property to this day. Subsequently Captain Kennedy, agent to the Estates, took over the House and completed the present House out of the “waste” left by John Etchingham.