Carrickfergus Castle  is a Norman castle in Northern Ireland, which is located in the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim, on the north shore of Belfast Lough. Besieged in turn by denskotska, Irish, English and French, the castle played an important military role until 1928 and is still one of the best preserved medieval buildings in Northern Ireland. It was strategically good, with 3/4 of the castle perimeter surrounded by water (even in modern times only 1/3 is surrounded by water because of clearance). Today it is maintained by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency as a state care historic monument, at grid ref: J4143 8725th  [1]


Carrickfergus built by John de Courcy in 1177 as its headquarters, after he conquered eastern Ulster in 1177 and ruled as a petty king until 1204, when he was overthrown by another Norman adventurer, Hugh de Lacy. Initially they Courcy built the Interior Department, a small courtyard at the end of the promontory with a high polygonal wall and east gate. It had several buildings, including the main hall. From its strategic location on a promontory, originally almost surrounded by sea, commanded the castle Carrickfergus Bay (later known as the Belfast Lough), and the ground approaching the walled city developed in its shadows.

English control

It first appears in the official English records in 1210 when King John besieged it and took control of the then Ulster main strategic garrison. After his capture, constables were appointed to command the castle and its surroundings. In 1217 the new constable, The Serlane, was awarded a hundred pounds to build a new curtain wall so that the approach along the mountain can be protected, as well as eastern methods of sand exposed at low tide. The middle-ward curtain wall later reduced to ground level in the eighteenth century, save along the sea side, where it survives with a poster gate and east tower, known for a fine collection of crossbows loops on the basement level.

A chamber on the first floor in the east tower believed to have the castle canopy because of their fine Roman style double window surround, if the original canopy must have been in the inner compartment. The ribbed vaults over the entrance passage of the murderous hole and the massive portcullis at each end of the gatehouse is later realizes started by Hugh de Lacey, who died in 1248 and did not live to see its completion in about 1250. It was completed by King Henry III.

After the collapse of the Earldom of Ulster in 1333, the castle remained in the Crown’s main residential and administrative center of Northern Ireland.During the early stages of the nine-year war (1595-1603), when the English influence in the north became weak, crown forces were provided and maintained by the city’s port. And in 1597, the surrounding countryside was the scene of the Battle of Carrickfergus.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, improvements were made to accommodate artillery, including external splayed gun ports and embrasures for cannons, but these improvements not prevent the castle from being attacked and captured on many occasions during this time. Marshal Schomberg besieged and took the castle in the week-long siege of Carrickfergus in 1689. This is also the place where Schomberg leader, King William III first set foot in Ireland June 14, 1690.

In 1760, after heavy fighting in the city, it was handed over to the French invaders under the command of François Thurot. They looted the castle and the town and then left, only to be captured by the Royal Navy.

Subsequent use

In 1778, a small but important event in the American War of Independence began in Carrickfergus, when John Paul Jones, given the reluctance of his crew approached too close to the castle, attracted a Royal Navy ship from its moorings in the North Channel, and won an hour long struggle. In 1797 the castle, which had on several occasions been used to house prisoners of war, became a prison and it was heavily defended during the Napoleonic Wars; six cannons on the eastern battery remaining twenty-two used in the 1811th

For a century remained a magazine and armory. During the First World War it was used as a garrison and ammunition store, and during World War II as a bomb shelter.

It was garrisoned continuously for about 750 years until 1928, when ownership was transferred from the British army to the new government in Northern Ireland for the conservation of an old monument .Many of its after Norman and Victorian additions removed to restore the castle’s original Norman look. It remains open to the public. Assembly Hall has been completely renovated and there are many exhibits to show what life was like in the Middle times. It was built and rebuilt three times, and still stands today.

railway access

The castle is a short walk from Carrickfergus railway station. Trains connect west to Belfast Belfast Central and Great Victoria Street and east to Whitehead and Larne port operated by Northern Ireland Railways.

See also

  • Castles in the UK and Ireland
  • Castles in Northern Ireland
  • Castles in Ireland


  1. Jump up ^  “Carrickfergus Castle” (PDF). Environment and Heritage Service NI – State Care of historical monuments. Be checked out three December 2007.