LivingTravelCarrickfergus Castle: The Complete Guide

Carrickfergus Castle: The Complete Guide

Nearby Belfast is better known, but as the castle here shows, Carrickfergus is actually much older than the modern capital of Northern Ireland. Excavations in the area show settlements dating back thousands of years, but it was the strategic foundation of Carrickfergus Castle in the 12th century that made the position so sought after.

The Anglo-Norman castle has survived over 750 years of continuous military occupation, longer than any other castle in Ireland. Its stone structure is incredibly well preserved and still makes a great impression along the water north of Belfast.

Ready to experience the castle’s history for yourself? Here’s the complete guide to Carrickfergus Castle, including what to see and how to visit.


The entire Carrickfergus area is named after the historical figure of Fergus, the first King of Scotland. Fergus is believed to have left the west coast of Scotland and sailed for Ulster in search of a cure for his leprosy in AD 501.However, as he approached the coast, his ship struck a dangerous basalt rock outcrop, known as’ carraig ». The Scottish king reportedly drowned and his body washed ashore. Thereafter, the rock that sank his ship became known as Carraig-Fergus.

Carrickfergus Castle is built on the same rock that supposedly killed King Fergus. The first fortifications were built here in 1178 by John de Courcy for King Henry, who was sending Anglo-Norman invaders to Ireland.

The location of the castle, which is surrounded by a shallow sea on three sides, was extremely strategic. The kings and earls who followed in Henry’s footsteps continued construction on Carrickfergus Castle and by 1242 the castle was completed, and it still looks today as it would have done so many centuries ago.

For the next 600 years, Carrickfergus Castle played a key role in the defense of Ireland. Any invader who wanted to try to control the Emerald Isle knew that they would have to try to conquer Carrickfergus. The Scots, French, and English attacked the castle over the years, and the castle’s military history continued into the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the 19th century, the castle was turned into a military prison and later an armory. With the advent of the First World War, the castle became a military garrison. After the great war ended, Carrickfergus Castle was transferred from the War Department to the Ministry of Finance in 1928 so that it could become a protected historic site. Although technically retired from military service, the castle was used as a bomb shelter during World War II. Today, Carrickfergus Castle is an iconic landmark with an informative visitor center.

What to see

Carrickfergus Castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Ireland and you can still walk through the structure. Inside you will find a visitor center and an exhibition of cannons from the 17th-19th centuries. The castle can be easily seen along the water and can be admired from the outside, but paying admission to enter is the best way to experience the different ages that the castle has survived.

Place and how to visit

Carrickfergus Castle is in the town of Carrickfergus, County Antrim, near Belfast.

Carrickfergus Castle is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm (with the last entry available at 4 pm). In winter, which is considered from October to March, the castle has slightly more limited hours and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are £ 5.50 for adults and £ 3.50 for children, and children under 4 years old enter free.

Note: Repair and reconstruction work is planned for Carrickfergus Castle, including part of the Great Tower. The work aims to reinforce the roof and walls, and preserve the castle for generations to come. While the current plan is to limit closures as much as possible, some parts of Carrickfergus Castle may be temporarily unavailable from time to time. You can confirm the exact openings within the castle complex by email by sending a message to: [email protected]

What else to do nearby

Carrickfergus was once a completely closed city and its walls predate Derry’s most famous walls. About half of the walls still exist and you can walk along the stone structures, which date back to 1615. The Northeast Bastion is one of the best-preserved sections of the walls and offers an excellent insight into how impressive they were. the fortifications. .

Visit the Carrickfergus Museum to learn even more about the historic city and admire the ceremonial sword and medieval artifacts found in the collection. Maybe even hum the famous Carrickfergus song while exploring the museum.

The city is a great place to walk, and the most beautiful place to stroll is along the Carrickfergus Marina promenade. The affluent neighborhood is on the north side of Lake Belfast and is known for its charming docks.

Carrickfergus has its own long history, but these days it is considered part of the greater Belfast area. After getting a taste of smaller city life, head to Northern Ireland’s capital to enjoy everything from street art to opera houses or a day at the Belfast Zoo.

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