In 1565 it was recognised that Carrickfergus was under threat as a symbol of the crown but Queen Elizabeth was unwilling to pay for town walls. A hundred men were put on the job, but work was slow and incomplete when, on 2 June 1573, Sir Brian Phelim O’Neill burnt the town. Work struggled on until Lord Deputy Sir Arthur Chichester took charge in 1599 and by 1610 had his fine mansion, Joymount, built in the east corner of
the walled town.
At least half of the Carrickfergus Town Walls are still visible, often to the full height of 4m to the wall-walk. The wall extended from the castle north-west to Irish Gate, then north to North Gate, east to the rear of the Joymount property and south towards the water. The best-preserved stretch of wall, with the north-east corner bastion, can be seen from Shaftesbury Park next to the bowling green.
Another good stretch, with a blocked 17th century gate, can be seen along the east side of the library on the Joymount site. Other features include North Gate (dated 1608) at the end of North Street, twice restored in the 20th century but with some 17th-century stones still visible in the arch, and at the end of West Street, the footings of Irish Gate and the adjacent wall. This was excavated from 977 to 1979 by the late T.G. Delaney, after whom the park, Delaney Green, is named.
The wall top is narrow and defence could only be by musket. Despite this, when the town was besieged by Schomberg’s troops in 1689 it was able to hold out for a week before yielding to a superior force. The town was besieged again in 1760 by a French army under Thurot.
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