Carrickfergus Castle

Carrickfergus Castle


Location: Carrickfergus, Antrim County Map

Constructed: 1177 by John de Courcy

Tel. 028 9335 1273

Open: daily

Closed: Sunday am, 24- 26 Dec

Carrickfergus Castle (Irish Caisleán Charraig Fhearghais) is a Norman-style castle in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland.



The castle stands not far from Carrickfergus town center on the north shore of Lough Belfast. In former times it was 3/4 surrounded by water. Carrickfergus train station is about a five-minute walk away. From there, Northern Ireland Railways services run west to Belfast and east to Whitehead and Larne.



The castle was built in 1177 by John de Courcy. After conquering eastern Ulster that same year, he settled here and reigned until 1204, when he was driven out by Hugh de Lacy. The building is first mentioned in English records in 1210. At this point, King John besieged the castle and eventually conquered it. He appointed security guards to manage the facility and surrounding area. Although the title of Earl of Ulster ceased to be bestowed after 1333, Carrickfergus Castle remained the English king's main seat in Northern Ireland and an important administrative centre. In the early stages of the Nine Years' War, as English influence in the northern part of Ireland continued to decline, English soldiers were resupplied through the port of Carrickfergus. In 1597, the Battle of Carrickfergus took place in the immediate vicinity of the castle.

In 1690 Friedrich von Schomberg conquered the castle, so that Wilhelm III. was able to land here for the first time on June 14, 1690. In 1760, French troops led by François Thurot stormed the city, sacked the castle and then fled. A little later, however, they were asked by the Royal Navy. The building has served as a prison several times throughout its history, but was officially used as such for the first time in 1797. Prisoners of war were housed here during the coalition wars. After that, it served as an arsenal for well over a century. During the First World War the facility was used as a garrison. In addition, it served as a storage room for the catering orderly. In 1928 the castle passed from the British Army to the Government of Northern Ireland. During World War II it was used as an air raid shelter. Today the castle is open to the public to visit.



John de Courcy built the complex as a moth on a crag. It was surrounded by a high polygonal ring wall. A gate was embedded in the eastern part of the wall. The castle consisted of several buildings, including a knight's hall. It is believed that a room on the first floor of the east tower served as a chapel. The Romanesque windows are still there today. The star vault at the entrance, the murder hole and the portcullis at the gatehouse were all commissioned by Hugh de Lacey, who did not live to see their completion. In 1217 a sergeant named de Serlane received £100 from Johann Ohneland to build a new ring wall to make access to the castle over the crag more difficult and to ensure defense at low tide. Most of this wall was demolished again in the 18th century, but the seaward part has survived to this day. There is a postern and the east tower. This has several loopholes for crossbowmen.

Several modifications were made in the 16th and 17th centuries to improve the defences. For example, loopholes for cannons and gun ports were installed.

The dining room has been renovated. Today there is an exhibition with various medieval utensils.