Newest Review: ... train stops are within (or less than) a 10 minute walk of the Castle itself. Entry is quite cheap at £3.00 for adults and half that price ... more
Irelands Secret Wonder
Carrickfergus Castle (Northern Ireland)
Member Name: villager90
Carrickfergus Castle (Northern Ireland)
Advantages: interesting, picturesque, great trip out
Disadvantages: not suitable for younger children,
Carrickfergus Castle is a prime example of a Norman Castle in the old town of Carrickfergus, County Antrim. It is situated at the mouth of the old harbor and can be seen very clearly from Belfast Lough when entering Belfast on the boats that sail down past Carrickfergus. The castle is seated above the sea with the waves hitting the rock the castle is built on frequently. Carrickfergus is a very picturesque castle, one of the most in Ireland, and is the main feature in the town.
Anybody traveling through Carrickfergus will not be able to miss the castle as it is situated on the Shore Road that leads to Larne. Castle is very large and is often features on promotional material of Northern Ireland. for example place mats, post cards and in numerous literature on the great county of Antrim.
Carrickfergus Castle was built by John de Courcy in 1177 as his headquarters, after he had conquered the eastern quarter of Ulster, and ruled as a minor king until 1204, when he was ousted by another Norman leader, Hugh de Lacy.
De Courcy built the inner ward and initially the castle had a number of buildings, including the great hall and banqueting suite. From its strategic position by the near the mouth of the lough and harbor, the castle was a commanding force in Belfast Lough. As a result of the castle being constructed in Carrickfergus, the town of the same name was able to emerge under its shadow.
A chamber on the first floor of the east tower is believed to have been the castle's chapel on account of its fine, enchanting double window surrounding the chapel.It is thought the original chapel may have been in the inner ward of the castle. The ribbed vault over the entrance passage, the murder hole and the massive portcullis at either end of the gatehouse are later insertions, probably part of the remodeling that followed Edward Bruce's long and bitter siege of 1315-1316. The portcullis is still in place today at the entrance of the castle and is the scene of many wedding pictures that take place in the town. A definite treat for any family getting married in Carrickfergus to have their picture taken under the wings of such a beautiful castle.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a number of improvements were made to accommodate artillery, notably externally gunports and embrasures for cannon. These features can still be seen today.
The much celebrated William of Orange first stepped onto Ireland in 1692 before the great Battle of the Boyne. Clearly showing the prominence that Carrickfergus castle had in Ireland.
A significant even of the American War of Independence in 1778 began at Carrickfergus, when John Paul Jones lured a British Royal Navy vessel from its moorings into the North Channel, and won an hour-long battle. Leading to the American War of Independence that saw America cut its ties from the British Empire.
The castle became a place for Prisoners of War during the Napoleonic Wars and became a heavily fortified jail.
For a further century it remained an armoury. Like many big building during the great war, Carrickfergus castle was used as a garrison and during the second world war Carrickfergus Castle offered shelter from air raids to the people of this town.
In 1928 its ownership was transferred to the government for preservation as an ancient monument and it has been open to the public for many years, being closed for important refurbishments, of the castle exterior and interior parts. The banqueting hall has been fully restored and there are many exhibits to show what life was like in medieval times in the castle and in the town itself.
Today anyone visitor approaching the Castle can park their car in the car park next to the castle which is free of charge! Visitors can have a look round the town and visit the selective shops there and enjoy a nice meal at the many restaurants and bars that the town has to offer.
The area immediately around the castle has wonderful floral displays in the summer that are sponsored by local businesses. A big banner is hung over the castles entrance that creates a terrific grandeur effect. Adding to the castles brilliance.
The most prominent feature of the castle clearly has to be the large center of the structure. When climbed this offers terrific views of the lough to Bangor and Holywood over on the opposite shore.
In the center of the castle there is a small shop and limited cafe. To the fit the most into your day I would recommend looking round the castle then going round the town and eating something in the town. When I have visited the castle it has provided entertainment for approximately 2 hours.
At one time the public were invited to walk the castles battlement and enjoy further breath taking views and see where soldiers used to fire from. I would not like to say whether or not this practice still operates with the stringent Health and Safety regulations that govern such tourist attractions.
Adult - £3.00, Ch/OAP - £1.50, Child under 4 - Free
Family Rate - £8.00 (2 Adults & 2 Children)
Winter (1 Oct - 31 March)
Open Monday-Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sun 2pm to 4pm
Summer (1 April - 30 Sept)
Open Monday-Saturday 10am to 6pm
Open Sunday (Apr, May, Sept) 2pm to 6pm
Open Sunday (June, July, Aug) 12noon to 6pm
Carrickfergus is 10 miles north of Belfast city center, a straight run on the M5.
Tel: (028) 9335 1273
Fax: (028) 9335 5190
Carrickfergus Castle is definitely worthy of a visit with the breath taking views and over 800years of history that it has to offer. A trip to Northern Ireland must include this castle that is marveled at being one of the most picturesque, even to look at from the outside it is nice to see the castle and the boat bobbing around in the harbor that adjoins the castle in this small haven in Northern Ireland.
Summary: is a most enjoyable outing