The original Castle of Antrim is generally supposed, according to Dr. Petrie, to have been erected in or about the year 1662, by Sir John Clotworthy, Lord Massarene, who died in 1665, and whose only daughter and heiresss, Mary, by her marriage with Sir John Skeffington, the fifth baronet of that name, carried the estate and title into the latter family. From the architectual style of the edifice, however, it is more than probable that although the Castle may have been re-edified in the seventeenth century, it was founded long before, as some of the walls of the earlier structure are still visible.
The present Castle appears to have been originally erected in the early part of the reign of the First James, by Sir Hugh Clotworthy, who by that monarch’s patent had the charge of certain vessels on Lough Neagh. His son, Sir John, was one of the most distinguished leaders of the Parliamentary forces during the Civil War, and notwithstanding this fact, was, oddly enough, raised to the peerage by patent of Charles II., under the title of “Baron of Lough Neagh and Viscount of Massarene.” The Castle is beautifully situated on the banks of the Six-mile-water river, immediately contiguous to Lough Neagh, and is a good example of the style of domestic architecture introduced into Ireland after the Restoration. The gardens of the Castle, the greatest length of which runs parallel with the river, are probably coeval with the erection of the edifice, and are laid out in a very attractive and uncommon style.