Carrickfergus Castle: unveiling the strength and significance of Northern Ireland’s iconic fortress

Nestled on the northern shores of Belfast Lough in the town of Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Carrickfergus Castle stands as a formidable testament to Northern Ireland’s medieval heritage.

Carrickfergus Castle: unveiling the strength and significance of Northern Ireland’s iconic fortress.

This iconic fortress, constructed in 1177 by John de Courcy, exudes an aura of strength and historical significance.

In this article, we embark on a journey through time, exploring the castle’s strategic role in conflicts, its enduring architecture, and the captivating tales it holds within its walls.

From sieges to restoration, this article delves into the castle’s narrative, unravelling the layers of history that make it a cherished jewel in Northern Ireland’s cultural crown.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for visiting Carrickfergus Castle:

  • Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be walking on uneven surfaces and stairs within the castle.
  • The weather across Ireland can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and be prepared for rain.
  • Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the stunning views of the castle and its surroundings.
  • Consider joining a guided tour to get in-depth information about the castle’s history and architecture and history.
  • Carrickfergus has more to offer than just the castle. Take some time to explore the town and its local attractions.
  • Head to Carrickfergus Castle Visitor Information Centre for information, travel tips, free maps, leaflets, bus and rail times, and more.
  • There is free on-site parking at the castle. The drive from Belfast takes around 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch the train towards Whitehead (get off at Carrickfergus) from Lanyon Place Station. Several bus lines also serve Carrickfergus from Belfast.

Interesting facts about Carrickfergus Castle:

  • Carrickfergus Castle was constructed in 1177 by the Anglo-Norman knight John de Courcy, a key figure in the Norman invasion of Ireland.
  • The Norman castle is strategically located on the northern shore of Belfast Lough, providing control over the entrance to the river and access to inland areas.
  • In 1315, the castle endured a siege by Edward Bruce, brother of the famous Scottish King Robert the Bruce, during his campaign in Ireland.
  • Joan, daughter of King John of England and wife of Llewellyn the Great of Wales, died at Carrickfergus Castle in 1237.
  • Over the centuries, it was captured and owned by the likes of King William III, French forces, and more.
  • Carrickfergus Castle underwent extensive restoration in the 19th century, ensuring its preservation for future generations.
  • During WWI, it was used as a garrison and ordnance store. During World War II, it was used as an air raid shelter. 
  • Today, the castle houses a museum showcasing military history, weapons, and artefacts from different periods between the 17th and 19th centuries, providing a comprehensive view of its rich past.

What’s nearby

Food: Castello Italia (Italian), Papa Browns (grill), Springsteens (American-style diner), Josh Macs (American-style diner), Mayur (Indian), Windrose Bar & Restaurant (modern European), Kamakura Carrickfergus (Japanese).

Drink: Ownies Bar and Bistro, Royal Oak, Brown Cow Inn.

Accommodation: Dobbins Inn (three-star), Premier Inn Carrickfergus (three-star), Loughshore Hotel (three-star), Loughside B&B, Walter’s Place (guesthouse).

Other attractions: Andrew Jackson Cottage & US Rangers Museum, Oakfield Glen and Bashfordsland Wood, Blackhead Lighthouse, and Whitehead Railway Museum.

Your questions answered about Carrickfergus Castle

Was Carrickfergus Castle in Game of Thrones?

No, Carrickfergus Castle did not feature in Game of Thrones. While Northern Ireland served as a prominent filming location for the series, Carrickfergus Castle was not among the chosen sites.

How long does it take to see Carrickfergus Castle?

The average visit to Carrickfergus Castle takes approximately 1 to 2 hours, depending on the level of detail you explore and whether you participate in guided tours or special exhibits.

Why is Carrickfergus Castle famous?

It’s famous for its rich history and strategic significance. Built in 1177 by John de Courcy, it played a key role in medieval conflicts and has witnessed events involving notable historical figures.

Contact and more info

Phone: (+44) 028 9335 1273


Address: Marine Highway, Carrickfergus BT38 7BG

Opening hours: Carrickfergus Castle is open Tuesday through Sunday. The opening hours differ throughout the year.

From Easter to September the site is open between 9: 30 am and 4:30 pm, while from October to Easter it’s open between 9 am and 4 pm. The castle is closed on Mondays and bank holidays

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