Carrickfergus Castle lies on the seafront in the town by the same name, in County Antrim, in Northern Ireland.
Carrickfergus Castle was built somewhere between 1177 and 1195 by the Anglo Norman lord John de Courcy. He built his castle, then just a 3 storey square keep within a small enclosure, now called the Inner Ward, at the end of a rock jutting out into the sea, guarding the entrance to Belfast Lough. From here De Courcy ruled as a petty king over Ulster.
In 1210, after John De Courcy had died, Carrickfergus Castle was captured by King John. In 1216, after King John's reign, the second building phase to improve the castle started. The keep was raised to its present height and a second set of walls, now called the Middle Ward, was built. Only foundations of these walls remain at present.
A third phase of building took place between 1226 and 1242 when the castle and the region were under the rule of another Anglo Norman lord, Hugh de Lacy. The walls were extended to encircle the whole of the rock the castle stood on. This area is now called the Outer Ward. The entrance to the Outer Ward was guarded by a strong gate house formed by 2 large circular towers.
During the Edward Bruce invasion the English retreated to Carrickfergus and the castle fell to the Scots in September 1316, after a year's siege.
In the early 1600's Carrickfergus Castle was updated for artillery. The round towers of the gate house were lowered by half and transformed in the present D-shape amongst other improvements. However, by 1689 the castle had fallen into disrepair and was easily captured by General Schomberg in 1690. His leader King William III landed on the pier here in the same year.
In 1760 Carrickfergus briefly fell into the hands of the French under the command of Francois Thurot. They looted the castle and town and then left.
In 1797 the castle became a prison and in the early 1800's, under the threat of a possible French invasion, its defences were considerably strenghtened with 22 cannons.
Until 1928 Carrickfergus Castle was used as a magazine and armory and during WW II it served as an air raid shelter.
A great castle although its exterior is a lot more exiting than its interior. It can be visited for a small fee.