Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman-built fortification which was in continual use as a military stronghold for 800 years. Today a number of exhibitions about the history of the castle and the local area are on show within the castle itself.
About Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle was established in the 12th century and remained a prominent stronghold in Northern Ireland for 800 years. Witnessing countless sieges and battles throughout history, Carrickfergus remains today an excellent example of medieval architecture, fit wit numerous examples of its many years as a military stronghold.
Originally built by the Anglo-Norman nobleman John de Courcy in 1177, Carrickfergus Castle was modified repeatedly over the centuries as new weapons, tactics and threats brought fresh challenges to those defending the area. As such, significant works to Carrickfergus Castle were carried out in the 13th, 16th and 17th centuries as its needs changed.
In 1210, King John undertook a successful siege of Carrickfergus Castle, who then begun alterations on what was then Ulster’s premier strategic garrison. These were finished by Henry III in around 1250, following which it became the Crown’s principal residence and administrative centre in the north of Ireland.
In 1689 the Castle was again besieged by Marshal Schomberg, and was the site where his leader William of Orange, also King William III, first arrived in Ireland in 1690 following the Glorious Revolution. In 1760 it was taken by French forces during the Battle of Carrickfergus in the Seven Years’ War, and even witnessed a small naval encounter fought in 1778 during the American Revolution!
Later uses of Carrickfergus Castle included being used as a prison, armoury, military garrison during World War One, and air raid shelter during World War Two.
Carrickfergus Castle today
Today Carrickfergus Castle is a historic site run by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and is open to the public. Notable areas of Carrickfergus Castle worth seeing on a visit include the restored banqueting hall, medieval life exhibits and the 17th-19th century cannons which once formed part of the castle’s defences.
As one of Northern Ireland’s best-preserved medieval castles, Carrickfergus allows an authentic look into the area’s long and fascinating history, with its location also providing a picturesque visit overlooking Belfast Lough.
Getting to Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle is located in Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, on the A2 road 11 miles north of Belfast. Carrickfergus train station is a 6-minute walk to the site, while a number of bus services run to the Castle stop, a 5-minute walk away.
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