Carrickfergus Castle at sunset
|Population||27,998 (2011 Census)|
|• Belfast||11 miles (18 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Dialling code||028 93|
Carrickfergus (from Irish : Carraig Fhearghais [ˌkaːɾˠəɟ ˈaɾˠɣəʃ] , meaning "Fergus' rock") is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It sits on the north shore of Belfast Lough, 11 miles (18 km) from Belfast. The town had a population of 27,998 at the 2011 Census. It is County Antrim's oldest town and one of the oldest towns in Ireland as a whole. Carrickfergus was the administrative centre for Carrickfergus Borough Council, before this was amalgamated into the Mid and East Antrim District Council in 2015, and forms part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area. It is also a townland of 65 acres, a civil parish and a barony.
The town is the subject of the classic Irish folk song "Carrickfergus", a 19th-century translation of an Irish-language song (Do Bhí Bean Uasal)from Munster, which begins with the words, "I wish I was in Carrickfergus".
The British peerage title of Baron Carrickfergus, which had become extinct in 1883, was bestowed upon Prince William on his wedding day in 2011.
The town is said to take its name from Fergus Mór (Fergus the Great), the legendary king of Dál Riata. According to one tale, his ship ran aground on a rock by the shore, which became known as "Carraig Fhearghais" – the rock of Fergus.
As an urban settlement, Carrickfergus far pre-dates the capital city Belfast and was for a lengthy period both larger and more prominent than the nearby city. Belfast Lough itself was known as 'Carrickfergus Bay' well into the 17th century. Carrickfergus and the surrounding area was, for a time, treated as a separate county. The historical walled town originally occupied an area of around 97,000 square metres, which now comprises the town centre, bordered by Albert Road to the west, the Marine Highway to the south, Shaftesbury Park to the north and Joymount Presbyterian Church grounds to the east. Segments of the town wall are still visible in various parts of the town and in various states of preservation. Archaeological excavations close to the walls' foundations have yielded many artefacts that have helped historians piece together a picture of the lives of the 12th and 13th century inhabitants.
Carrickfergus became an inhabited town shortly after 1170, when Anglo-Norman knight John de Courcy invaded Ulster, established his headquarters in the area and built Carrickfergus Castle on the "rock of Fergus" in 1177.The castle, which is the most prominent landmark of Carrickfergus, is widely known as one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland.
Sometime between 1203 and 1205, De Courcy was expelled from Ulster by Hugh de Lacy, as authorised by King John. de Lacy oversaw the final construction of the castle, which included the gatehouse, drum towers and outer ward. It was at this time that he established the nearby St Nicholas' Church. de Lacy was relieved of his command of the town in 1210, when King John himself arrived and placed the castle under royal authority. de Lacy eventually regained his title of Earl of Ulster in 1227, however the castle and its walled town were captured several more times following his death (in 1242). The forces of Edward de Bruce captured the town in 1315 and the castle in 1316 before his death in battle in 1318.The town was largely destroyed by the Scots in 1402.
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. A contemporary Elizabethan illustration of Carrickfergus shows ten tower-houses, as well as terraces of single-storey houses, some detached cottages and 70 or more Irish beehive-type huts in the town.
Sir Arthur Chichester was appointed by the Earl of Essex to govern the castle and town in 1599 and was responsible for the plantation of English and Scottish peoples in the town, as well as the building of the town wall.
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 1711 Carrickfergus was the scene of the last witchcraft trial in Ireland. Eight women were charged with bewitching a young girl, and were convicted, despite a strong indication from one of the judges that the jury should acquit. They were sentenced to a year in prison and four sessions in the pillory.
In April 1778, during the American War of Independence, John Paul Jones, in command of the American ship Ranger , 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.
During the 1790s there was considerable support in the Carrickfergus area for the United Irishmen.On 14 October 1797 William Orr was hanged in the town following what was widely regarded as a show trial held in Carrickfergus Courthouse (now the Town Hall ) and in 1798 United Irish founder Henry Joy McCracken was captured on the outskirts of the town while trying to escape to America.
In 1912 the people of Carrickfergus turned out in their thousands to watch as the RMS Titanic made its first ever journey up the lough from its construction dock in Belfast. The famous passenger liner was anchored overnight just off the coast of Carrickfergus, before continuing on its journey.
During World War II, Northern Ireland was an important military base for United States Naval and Air Operations and a training ground for American G.I.s. The First Battalions of the elite US Rangers were activated and based in Sunnylands Camp for their initial training. The US Rangers Centre in nearby Boneybefore pays homage to this period in history.It is rumoured that Italian and German POWs were held in the town, the Italians in a camp at Sullatober mill, and Germans at Sunnylands.
In the 1970s, the town became an important centre for the textile industry. An ICI man-made fibres factory was opened at Kilroot and was followed by the Rothman's cigarette factory. Courtaulds operated a large rayon works there until the 1980s.
In 1981, Kilroot power station opened and is the largest power station in Northern Ireland.
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.
Throughout the course of The Troubles, there was a reasonably large paramilitary presence in the town, namely the Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Defence Association.Census figures show that the Catholic population of Carrickfergus declined from 16.2% in 1971 to 9.56% in 2011.
On Census day (27 March 2011) there were 27,998 people living in Carrickfergus.Of these:
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Carrickfergus railway station opened on 1 October 1862.In addition, the northwest of the town is served by Clipperstown railway station, and the east by Downshire railway station. All three stations have regular commuter services to Belfast and Larne. Three historic stations in Carrickfergus, Barn, Eden and Mount, closed in the 1970s.
Carrickfergus is covered by the East Antrim constituency, whose Member of Parliament (MP) is Sammy Wilson of the DUP. The Parliamentary constituency of Carrickfergus existed from 1801 to 1885.
Local MLAs for the area following the 2017 election are:
Until 2015 the local authority was Carrickfergus Borough Council, based at Carrickfergus Town Hall.Since 1 April 2015 Carrickfergus has come under the control of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. The town is covered by two of the council's wards, Carrick Castle and Knockagh. In the May 2019 local elections, the following councillors were elected for these wards:-
There are many primary and secondary schools in Carrickfergus, including:
Sporting establishments in the town include:
Carrickfergus is twinned with:
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 3,046 square kilometres (1,176 sq mi) and has a population of about 618,000. County Antrim has a population density of 203 people per square kilometre or 526 people per square mile. It is also one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland, as well as part of the historic province of Ulster.
Antrim was a local government district in Northern Ireland. It was one of twenty-six districts created in 1973, and was granted borough status on 9 May 1977. The borough covered an area of some 220 square miles (570 km2) and had a population of 53,428 according to the 2011 census. It was situated about 19 miles (31 km) north-west of Belfast. It bordered the north and east shores of Lough Neagh, the largest fresh water lake in the United Kingdom, and included the towns of Antrim, Toomebridge, Crumlin, Randalstown, Parkgate and Templepatrick. The council headquarters were located on the outskirts of Antrim town. Although the borough was not within the Belfast Metropolitan Area, it housed the city's international airport and many commuter villages.
James Hugh Allister,, is a British unionist politician and barrister from Northern Ireland. He is the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) political party, since 2011 serving as the party's only MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly, representing North Antrim
East Antrim is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons. The current MP is Sammy Wilson of the DUP.
South Antrim is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons. The current MP is Paul Girvan of the Democratic Unionist Party.
Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle in Northern Ireland, situated in the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim, on the northern shore of Belfast Lough. Besieged in turn by the Scottish, native Irish, English and French, the castle played an important military role until 1928 and remains one of the best preserved medieval structures in Northern Ireland. It was strategically useful, with 3/4 of the castle perimeter surrounded by water. Today it is maintained by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency as a state care historic monument, at grid ref: J4143 8725.
Newtownabbey is a large settlement north of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Sometimes considered to be a suburb of Belfast, it is separated from the rest of the city by Cavehill and Fortwilliam golf course. At the 2011 Census, Metropolitan Newtownabbey Settlement had a population of 65,646, making it the third largest settlement in Northern Ireland. It is part of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
Larne Borough Council was a Local Council in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It merged with Ballymena Borough Council and Carrickfergus Borough Council in May 2015 under the reorganisation of local government in Northern Ireland to become Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Lisburn City Council was the local authority for an area partly in County Antrim and partly in County Down in Northern Ireland. As of May 2015 it was merged with Castlereagh Borough Council as part of the reform of local government in Northern Ireland to become Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.
Greenisland is a town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies 7 miles north-east of Belfast and 3 miles south-west of Carrickfergus. The town is on the coast of Belfast Lough and is named after a tiny islet to the west, the Green Island.
Whitehead is a small seaside town on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, lying almost midway between the towns of Carrickfergus and Larne. It lies within the civil parish of Templecorran, the historic barony of Belfast Lower, and is part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Before the Plantation of Ulster its name was recorded as both Whitehead and Kinbaine.
Jordanstown is a townland and electoral ward in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is within the urban area of Newtownabbey and the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area. It is also situated in the civil parish of Carnmoney and the historic barony of Belfast Lower. It had a population of 5494 in the 2001 census, with an average age of 34.
Fred Cobain, MBE is a Democratic Unionist Party politician from Northern Ireland. He was a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1998 until 2011.
Captain Robert Austin Ardill MC was a Northern Irish unionist politician.
James Anderson Craig was a Unionist politician from Northern Ireland who was a founder member of, and early leading figure in, the Democratic Unionist Party.
Antrim Borough Council was the local authority of Antrim in Northern Ireland. It merged with Newtownabbey Borough Council on 1 April 2015 under local government reorganisation in Northern Ireland to become Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
Ballymena Borough Council was the local authority of Ballymena in Northern Ireland. It merged with Carrickfergus Borough Council and Larne Borough Council in May 2015 under local government reorganisation in Northern Ireland to become Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
The Antrim Road is a major arterial route and area of housing and commerce that runs from inner city north Belfast to Dunadry, passing through Newtownabbey and Templepatrick. It forms part of the A6 road, a traffic route which links Belfast to Derry. It passes through the New Lodge, Newington and Glengormley areas of Northern Ireland amongst others.
May Beattie is a unionist politician in Northern Ireland.
John Stewart is a Northern Irish Unionist politician, and businessman. Since 2017, he has been an Ulster Unionist Party Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for East Antrim.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carrickfergus .|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Carrickfergus .|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Carrickfergus .|