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Carrickfergus, a large town in Northern Ireland, is a great place to visit, whether as a destination spot or as a short day trip from Belfast. In fact, Carrickfergus-known locally as “Carrick,” is only 18 km (11 miles) from Belfast, a route which is serviced by train and bus, so visitors can make the trip for only a few hours’ time depending on what their schedules are. Carrickfergus has an interesting history, including a song (Do Bhí Bean Uasal - ”I wish I was in Carrickfergus”) and a poem written about it, and is filled with opportunities for sightseeing.

History

Located in County Antrim, Carrickfergus has the status of being the county’s oldest town, and indeed, as one of the oldest settlements existing in Northern Ireland, is older than the nearby capital of Belfast. Carrickfergus also served as a military base for the United States, and interested individuals can explore the US Rangers Centre nearby to learn more about this time. Carrickfergus did not remain entirely untouched by the Troubles, though the town was unaffected for the most part.

Sightseeing and Things to Do

Visitors interested in Carrickfergus should visit the town center, which is where the historical Carrickfergus once stood. Parts of the town wall can still be seen and are a fascinating piece of history. The town center is also the location of a wall mural and replica pillory, which is one of the top sights to see in Carrickfergus. Visitors can also stop at Carrickfergus Castle, built on the “rock of Fergus,” which was completed in 1210 and remains today one of the best-preserved Norman Castles existing in Ireland. Nearby is the Parish Church which dates from around the same time.

Recreationalists and sports fans should be able to find things to keep them happy in Carrickfergus, too. The town has become a centre for leisure sailing and boasts the Carrickfergus Marina and Carrickfergus Sailing Club. Sports fans can catch a match from one of several teams: the Carrick Rangers F.C., the Carrickfergus Cricket Club, the Carrickfergus Knights American Football Club, and the Carrickfergus Rugby Club. Golfers will be glad to know that Carrickfergus boasts its own golf club.

There are plenty of good restaurants and bars in Carrickfergus, notably ones around the marina area, which can be a pleasant place for an evening stroll and boat watching. Some establishments have live music, particularly on weekends.