Crowning the Castle

Date published: 19 June 2018

It was announced today that the great tower of Carrickfergus Castle is to get a new roof.

Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle

The work, which will cost £1 million, is due to start in autumn 2018 and will replace the existing flat roof which has been in place for the past 80 years.

The new roof will be in keeping with late-medieval architecture of the Castle. It will be made from Irish Oak used ‘green’ and oak-pegged without the use of nails or metal fixings. The new roof will be a series of open trusses and rafters carrying oak boards. Externally the roof will be finished in Cumbrian stone slates and lead.

The external appearance of the Castle will not look significantly different from ground level as the roof will be behind the battlements. However, internally, the Great Hall at the top of the Tower will be transformed into a higher, brighter and more historically resonant space. The keep will also be warmer and drier allowing the full use of the space for historic artefacts, displays and functions.

The project will be managed by the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division. Its Director Iain Greenway said:

“This is a major milestone in the history of Carrickfergus Castle, one of our best-known and most-visited historic monuments. The new roof will safeguard and enhance the castle so that its heritage will continue to have a lead role in the social and economic prosperity of the whole area.

“It is intended that public access to the site will be maintained throughout the works and that as far as is practicable visitors will be able to see the building work in progress. Visitors to the castle will get the opportunity to see the new roof unfold and archaeology that may reveal elements to the battlements that have not been seen for many years.” 

Welcoming the works, Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said:

“We are excited to see this fantastic investment to further enhance one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic tourist attractions. Carrickfergus continues to make its mark on the tourism industry as we peel back its history, revealing its many hidden gems. This development will create more space and ultimately increase footfall to the local area. Already from working with the Department, we have seen increased visitor numbers and extended summer opening hours, so this latest significant investment is another example of how partnership working is befitting both the local and regional economy.”

For those unable to make it in person to castle, regular updates will be video streamed on the LoveHeritageNI Facebook page.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Carrickfergus Castle is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known historic monuments. It has been in State Care since 1928, and is now managed by the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities.
  2. The castle was founded in the late twelfth century by John de Courcy, a young Anglo-Norman knight who led a military expedition into Ulster.
  3. Carrickfergus Castle has been enlarged and reinforced over the centuries, and remained a military site until 1928, when it was passed into State Care. It is one of the most complete examples of Norman architecture in Northern Ireland, and one of the most complete castles of its type in Britain or Ireland.
  4. The works are being led by the Historic Environment Division, and are intended to secure the integrity of the keep against leaks for several generations and allow a programme of further interpretive and conservation works to take place.
  5. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office on 028 9082 3516 or email: Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
  6. Follow us on Twitter - @CommunitiesNI or Facebook - LoveHeritageNI
  7. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available.

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