Carrickfergus Castle is an historic fort that forms an imposing landmark on the shores of Belfast Lough.
Over recent years the castle has become more visitor orientated and provides a great insight into its workings as it explains how it was defended, as well as incorporated into local life. Access can be gained to nearly all parts, which provides a rare opportunity to see where the castle gates were defended from and the place that whatever was to hand got poured on the poor invader below. There is also the chance to come in contact with cannons, to climb the parapet, visit the castle keep and view the weaponry of the time.
It was built by the Norman knight John DeCourcey in 1177 on volcanic rock and is protected on three sides by the sea. However, despite its magnificent fortifications it changed hands between the Scots, Irish, English and French through both siege and battle.
Historically the castle’s harbour is recognised as being where King William III arrived on 14th June 1690 as he went to fight King James II, which culminated in the Battle of the Boyne. A local pageant now celebrates his arrival each year.
In later years the castle also witnessed another poignant note in history as an American Revolutionary War sea battle took place off the Carrickfergus shore in 1778. The Royal Navy’s HMS Drake was captured by the USS Ranger, the first British naval defeat to America within British waters.
The area surrounding the castle occasionally hosts concerts and entertainment events.
Nearest harbour: Carrickfergus marina (adjacent)