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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 54°42′58″N 5°48′11″W / 54.716°N 5.803°W / 54.716; -5.803

Irish: Carraig Fhearghais
The eastern side of Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus is located in Northern Ireland

 Carrickfergus shown within Northern Ireland
Population 27,201 (2001 Census)
    - Belfast  11 miles (18 km) 
District Carrickfergus Borough
County County Antrim
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BT38
Dialling code 028, +44 28
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
NI Assembly East Antrim
List of places: UK • Northern Ireland • Antrim

Carrickfergus (from the Irish: Carraig Fhearghais meaning "Rock of Fergus") is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 27,201 people recorded in the 2001 Census. The town is the administrative centre for Carrickfergus Borough Council. It is County Antrim's oldest town and takes its name from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, the 6th century king of Dál Riata. Due to the expansion of Belfast, Carrickfergus is often considered by many to be a large district of the city, as it now forms part of the Belfast Metropolitan Region.

The town is the subject of a classic Irish folk song entitled "Carrickfergus", a 19th century translation of an Irish-language song from Munster, which begins with the words, "I wish I was in Carrickfergus."



Carrickfergus stands on the north shore of Belfast Lough and is home to the 12th century Carrickfergus Castle, one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland. It was built around 1180 by John de Courcy. The church of St. Nicholas also dates from the late 12th century.

As an urban settlement, Carrickfergus predates Belfast and was for a lengthy period both larger and more prominent than the nearby city. Belfast Lough itself was called 'Carrickfergus Bay' well into the 17th century. Carrickfergus and the surrounding area was, for a time, treated as a separate county, although it is today part of County Antrim.

The Battle of Carrickfergus, part of the Nine Years War, took place in and around the town in November 1597. It was fought between the crown forces of Queen Elizabeth I and the Scots clan of MacDonnell, and resulted in a defeat for the English.

In 1637 the Surveyor General of Customs issued a report compiled from accounts of customs due from each port and their "subsidiary creeks". Of the Ulster ports on the list, Carrickfergus was first, followed by Bangor, Donaghadee, and Strangford.[1] In the same year the town sold its customs rights - which ran from Groomsport in County Down up to Larne in County Antrim - to Belfast and this in part led to its decline in importance as the province of Ulster grew.

Nevertheless, the decaying castle withstood several days of siege by the forces of William of Orange in 1689, before surrendering on 28 August; William himself subsequently landed at Carrickfergus on 14 June 1690. During the Seven Years' War, in February 1760, the whole town was briefly captured and held to ransom by French troops landed from Francois Thurot's naval squadron, after the defenders ran out of ammunition.

In April 1778 John Paul Jones attempted to capture a British Royal Navy sloop of war, HMS Drake, moored at Carrickfergus; having failed, he returned a few days later and challenged Drake to a fight out in the North Channel which the Americans won decisively.

The town was formerly an important centre for the textile industry. Courtaulds operated a large rayon works there until the 1980s. It now is a centre for leisure sailing, and is home to Carrickfergus Marina and Carrickfergus Sailing Club. The town is part of the Greater Belfast conurbation, being 11.4 miles (18.3 km) from Belfast city centre.

On 8 September 2007, Carrickfergus was the Northern Irish host for the Last Night at the Proms, featuring Alison Balsom, Alfie Boe, and Ulster conductor Kenneth Montgomery.


The Troubles

Carrickfergus throughout the course of The Troubles had a reasonably large paramilitary presence in the town, Mostly through the presence of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). See UDA South East Antrim Brigade for further information.

For more information see The Troubles in Carrickfergus, which includes a list of incidents which have resulted in fatalities in or near Carrickfergus.


Carrickfergus is classified by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)[2] as a large town (ie population between 18,000 and 75,000 people) and within Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area (BMUA). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 27,201 people living in Carrickfergus. Of these:

  • 23.2% were aged under 16 years and 15.9% were aged 60 and over
  • 48.6% of the population were male and 51.4% were female
  • 7.8% were from a Roman Catholic community background and 86.1% were from the Protestant or other Christian community backgrounds.
  • 3.6% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

For more details see: Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information[3]

Notable residents


  • Robert Adrain (1775-1843), mathematician, considered one of the best mathematical minds of his time, was born in Carrickfergus[4]
  • Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, was born in 1767 in the predominantly Scots-Irish Waxhaws area on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina two years after his parents left Boneybefore, near Carrickfergus. A heritage centre in the village pays tribute to the legacy of 'Old Hickory', the People's President.
  • Sir John Jamison (1776-1844), naval surgeon, physician and, later, an important Australian land-owning pioneer and constitutional reformer, was from Carrickfergus.
  • Richard Kane (1662-1736), British general, governor of Minorca and Gibraltar, was from Carrickfergus. Minorca Place in the town is named for him.
  • William Orr, United Irishman was hanged in Carrickfergus on October 14, 1797 for his part in the failed rebellion.
  • Jonathan Swift, the poet and satirist lived in Kilroot, on the outskirts of the town, and wrote A Tale of a Tub there.
  • Fit Finlay, Born David J. Finlay Jr (1958). Former WCW and current WWE professional wrestler. Born, raised, and lived in Carrickfergus until 1995.

20th century

  • Daniel Cambridge VC and James Crichton VC were born in Carrickfergus
  • Hugh McCarthy, the notable literary enthusiast mentioned Carrickfergus in his poem 'Town of Despair'.
  • Sean Lester (1888-1959) was born in Carrickfergus.He was the last Secretary General of the League of Nations, from 1940-1946.
  • Louis MacNeice's family moved to the town when the poet was two years old (his father was appointed Rector of St Nicholas' Church of Ireland Church), and he left at the age of ten to attend boarding school in England. One of MacNeice's most well-known poems, Carrickfergus (1937), relates his ambiguous feelings about the town where he spent his early boyhood.


Local schools & education

There are many primary and secondary schools in Carrickfergus.


Carrickfergus railway station opened on 1 October 1862.[5] and continues to offer regular commuter services to Belfast and Larne.

Local churches

Local sports clubs

Local councillors, MLAs and MPs

Carrickfergus is covered by the Carrick Castle district electoral area.

Local MLAs for the area are:

The local MP is:

Sister cities

See also


  1. ^ O'Sullivan, Aidan & Breen, Colin (2007). Maritime Ireland. An Archaeology of Coastal Communities. Stroud: Tempus. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-7524-2509-2.  
  2. ^ NI Statistics and Research Agency website.
  3. ^ Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information website.
  4. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967.  
  5. ^ "Carrickfergus". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  
  6. ^ "Anderson, sister city join hands". Anderson Independent Mail. July 30, 2009.  
  7. ^ . August 5, 2009.  
  8. ^ . May 9, 2006.  
  9. ^ .  

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Carrickfergus (also called Carrick) is a city in County Antrim.

  • Tourist Information Centre, Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre, Antrim Street, +44 (0)28 9335 8049 (, fax: 028 9335 0350).  edit

Get in

By car

The A2 Shore Road from Belfast is four laned from the end of the M5 Motorway at Rushpark to the University of Ulster. The bottleneck here where the road narrows to one lane in each direction for the next mile is the source of delays in the evening rush hour and the period around 3-4pm during term time when Belfast High School finishes. Also expect some delays around 5pm on Saturday evening as shoppers head home to Carrickfergus.

From Larne and Whitehead, the A2 Shore Road is narrow and winding but relatively free of traffic or delays.

Free carparking is available at the Harbour Car Park, beside Carrickfergus Castle.

By train

Carrickfergus is served by the Larne Line on Northern Ireland Railways, with Carrickfergus Station being the terminus for some services from Belfast, with halts also located at Clipperstown (on the Belfast side) and Downshire (on the Larne side). Return day fares were £4.90 from Belfast in January 2008.

  • Carrickfergus Castle
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CARRICKFERGUS, a seaport and watering-place of Co. Antrim, Ireland, in the east parliamentary division; on the northern shore of Belfast Lough, 91m. N.E. of Belfast by the Northern Counties (Midland) railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 4208. It stretches for about 1 m. along the shore of the Lough. The principal building is the castle, originally built by John de Courci towards the close of the 12th century, and subsequently much enlarged. It stands on a projecting rock above the sea, and was formerly a place of much strength. It is still maintained as an arsenal, and mounted with heavy guns. The ancient donjon or keep, 90 ft. in height, is still in good preservation. The town walls, built by Sir Henry Sidney, are still visible on the west and north, and the North Gate remains. The parish church of St Nicholas, an antiquated cruciform structure with curious Elizabethan work in the north transept, and monuments of the Chichester family, was originally a chapel or oratory dependent on a Franciscan monastery. The entrance to a subterranean passage between the two establishments is still visible under the communion-table of the church. The gaol, built on the site of the monastery above mentioned, was formerly the county of Antrim prison. The court-house, which adjoins the gaol, is a modern building. The town has some trade in domestic produce, and in leather and linen manufactures, there being several flax spinning-mills and bleach-works in the immediate neighbourhood. Distilling is carried on. The harbour admits vessels of 500 tons. The fisheries are valuable, especially the oyster fisheries. At Duncrue about 2 m. from the town, rock salt of remarkable purity and in large quantity is found in the Triassic sandstone. The neighbouring country is generally hilly, and Slieve True (1100 ft.) commands a magnificent prospect.

In 1182, John de Courci, to whom Henry II. had granted all the parts of Ulster he could obtain possession of by the sword, fixed a colony in this district. The castle came in the 13th century into possession of the De Lacy family, who, being ejected, invited Edward Bruce to besiege it (1315). After a desperate resistance the garrison surrendered. In 1386, the town was burned by the Scots, and in 1400 was destroyed by the combined Scots and Irish. Subsequently, it suffered much by famine and the occasional assaults of the neighbouring Irish chieftains, whose favour the townsmen were at length forced to secure by the payment of an annual tribute. In the reign of Charles I. many Scottish Covenanters settled in the neighbourhood to avoid the persecution directed against them. In the civil wars, from 1641, Carrickfergus was one of the chief places of refuge for the Protestants of the county of Antrim; and on the 10th of June 1642, the first Presbytery held in Ireland met here. In that year the garrison was commanded by General Robert Munro, who, having afterwards relinquished the cause of the English parliament, was surprised and taken prisoner by Sir Robert Adair in 1648. At a later period Carrickfergus was held by the partisans of James II., but surrendered in 1689 to the forces under King William's general Schomberg; and in 1690 it was visited by King William, who landed here on his expedition to Ireland. In 1760 it was surprised by a French squadron under Commodore Thurot, who landed with about loco men, and, after holding the place for a few days, evacuated it on the approach of the English troops. Eighteen years later Paul Jones, in his ship the "Ranger," succeeded in capturing the "Drake," a British sloop-of war, in the neighbouring bay; but he left without molesting the town. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth the town obtained a charter, and this was confirmed by James I., who added the privilege of sending two burgesses to the Irish parliament. The corporation, however, was superseded, under the provisions of the Municipal Reform Act of 1840, by a board of municipal commissioners. Carrickfergus was a parliamentary borough until 1885; and a county of a town till 1898, having previously (till 1850) been the county town of county Antrim. But its importance was sapped by the vicinity of Belfast, and its historical associations are now its chief interest.

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