Beautiful Carrickfergus Castle - An Exciting Example of a Medieval Irish Fortress

Zip past Belfast in Northern Ireland to find Carrickfergus Castle in Antrim County. Located in Ulster Province, Carrickfergus Castle is easily accessible by car from Dublin Airport, and the journey typically takes under two hours.

Irish Expressions: Carrickfergus Castle.  Image of the castle courtesy of Bigstock.

You will have to cross the border to Northern Ireland, but you'll stay on the M1 for most of the drive. Once in Belfast, you'll need to switch to the M2 to take you up to Carrickfergus and the incredible castle, its jousting competitions and its cannon.    

Things to Know About Carrickfergus Castle

Here are some fun facts about this amazing Irish landmark.  Hopefully they will entice you to pay a visit in person!

But if that is not possible, you can always use them to impress your friends with your knowledge of one of the most-visited attractions in Ireland.

  • If you're visiting Northern Ireland, make time to explore Carrickfergus Castle in County Antrim.
  • Another Norman castle, Carrickfergus was a military fortress built in the 12th century.
  • It is one of the few castles that was actively used for military purposes all the way into the 20th century.
  • Military history enthusiasts can see cannon that date back to the 17th century on the top of the castle walls, and events ranging from jousting matches to medieval costume conventions take place on the castle grounds.
  • Between 1178 and 2918, the castle was fully garrisoned. While it is no longer used for military operations, it certainly boasts a long history of use.
  • The castle was built to be nearly completely surrounded by water, which helped protect it from invasion. Today, however, it's a local joke to talk about how convenient the car park is to the castle! That's due to modern land reclamation.
  • Touring the Castle gives you a great idea of the military strength of this fort. Views stretch out over both land and sea, giving castle residents an early warning about any potential attacks.
  • The first floor of the castle holds a chamber with a gorgeous Romanesque window surround. Because of this unique piece, the room was probably the original chapel as far back as the 13th century.
  • There are both guided and self-guided tours available. If you opt for the self-guided experience, look for the many placards throughout the castle for more information and history.
  • Prince William of Wales holds the title of Baron Carrickfergus. He received the title on the day of his wedding, although it is purely ceremonial at this point.
  • The dungeons at Carrickfergus are noteworthy, and many visitors report that the dungeons are their favorite part of the castle. They are deliberately kept underlit to appear just a little spooky. 
  • If you're interested in visiting, be sure to spend some time walking the grounds. Military cannon remain, and there are occasionally employees in period costumes strolling about.
  • Don't leave without visiting the nearby Carrickfergus Museum. Its collection includes the town's original steam fire engine from 1908, 17th century swords and even artifacts that were once found in the castle. 
  • The castle is open year round, but it can get very busy in the summer months. If you're planning to book a guided tour, make sure it is done several days in advance.

Find much more information on Carrickfergus Castle from Antrim Coast & Glens.

Want More Irish Castles?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish castles!  The Emerald Isle is dotted with hundreds of these incredible structures.  

Sharing pictures and stories about them gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured the most amazing pictures and descriptions of Irish castles in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Guide to Irish Castles and Abbeys."

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email to get instant access!

That Was Fun!  Where Can I See More?

Great question! As you can see, exploring the castles of Ireland offers many opportunities for enjoying an Irish experience and expressing your personal Irish side!

For more information of this kind, you might pay a visit to our section on Ireland Sightseeing here!