Public to learn dark secrets of the castle

The Great Tower at Carrickfergus Castle. INCT 02-012-PSB
The Great Tower at Carrickfergus Castle. INCT 02-012-PSB

A £1.4m investment by the Department of Environment at Carrickfergus Castle is expected to have knock-on benefits for the wider borough.

The department is spending £250,000 in the current financial year and £1,150,000 the following one at the medieval stronghold. This will enable refurbishment to the historic fabric of the complex including re-roofing the Great Tower.

For many years, according to the Department of Environment, there has been water penetration through the roof and into the walls of the tower. “The roof is not fit for purpose, and while it keeps most rainwater out of the tower it does not provide sufficient waterproofing for the tower, hence the need to replace it,” a spokesperson explained in response to the Carrick Times.

The programme will also open up the dungeons and the ammunition room and create new areas to explore history.

The Department added: “There are several areas of the castle that are sometimes called dungeons – the barrel-vaulted stores in the outer ward were used as dungeons, as were the stores below the Great Tower. The barrel-vaulted stores in the outer ward have ongoing problems with water penetration, though the ammunition room is fairly dry. This condition is not unexpected in a structure of this age, but there are challenges in balancing the conservation of the structure and finding new uses that do not compromise the historic fabric or integrity of the spaces.”

The initiative is in partnership with Carrickfergus Borough Council and Councillor Gavin Norris believes it will complement major improvements in the town centre.

He said: “The investment will complement the Public Realm Scheme, which has delivered a new and improved streetscape, and other ongoing initiatives to improve shop fronts and address the look of derelict buildings in the town. Hopefully these projects will bring increased numbers of people into our cafes, bars and businesses, as well as the castle.”

The DoE added that once the works are conducted there should be improved scope for events.