With almost 1000 years of war and peace behind it, Carrickfergus is a ‘must see’ destination for lovers of history. For not only is it one of the oldest towns in Northern Ireland, but it has some of the finest Norman architecture in Europe, as exemplified by its indomitable castle. This magnificent structure, built in the 12th century by John de Courcy, commanded access to Belfast Lough, and the land approaches into the walled town that developed beneath its shadow.
Indeed, Carrickfergus still has part of these original, historic walls. Built in the early 17th century, they are excellent examples of Jacobean building, and excavations in the last few decades have yielded man artefacts that provide a profound insight to the life and times of the town’s inhabitants.
Carrickfergus also has a strong ecclesiastical heritage. St. Nicholas’s Church was established on its present site in 1182 and its architecture and contents reflect 900 years of social history. A small window in the chancel, for example, is known as the ‘leper window’, where those afflicted with the disease were allowed to sit outside the window to hear the church service.
You can take walking tours of Carrickfergus and its environs, taking in the walls and other high points of the town in the summer.