The 800-year-old Carrickfergus Castle is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Ireland. Built in the 12th century by Norman lord John de Courcy, it was used to ward off attacks from the Scots, Irish, English, and French, and also served as a garrison during World War I and an air raid shelter during World War II.
Carrickfergus Castle is now a historical attraction, with exhibits showcasing life inside the Norman castle. It’s often visited as part of organized guided tours from nearby Belfast. Day tours typically stop at other attractions in County Antrim, such as the Old Bushmills Distillery, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and the Giant’s Causeway. Some tours also stop at Game of Thrones filming locations, including the Cushendun Caves, Larrybane, the Dark Hedges, and Dunluce Castle.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Carrickfergus Castle is a must for history buffs.
- The castle offers only limited accessibility to wheelchair users and strollers.
- All children who visit the castle must be accompanied by an adult.
How to Get There
Carrickfergus Castle is situated about 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Belfast, overlooking the shore of Belfast Lough. Follow the A2 Shore Road; the journey takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, take the train from Belfast Central or Great Victoria Street stations and get off at Carrickfergus train station. The castle is just a 5-minute walk from the station.
When to Get There
The castle is open year-round. Last admission is relatively early (4pm from April to September, 3:30pm from October to March), so be sure to arrive before then. Go midweek to avoid the weekend crowds.
The Castles of Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus Castle is just one of many castles and fortifications that dot the green landscapes of Northern Ireland. Other fairy-tale fortresses and manor houses include the Scottish baronial-style Belfast Castle, the ruined cliffside castle of Dunluce, and Enniskillen Castle, a 16th-century stronghold for the Maguires of Fermanagh.