Centenary for church bell tower built to remember wartime dead

An historic church tower in Carrickfergus town centre is set to mark its centenary this week.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 10:24 am
St Nicholas's Church war memorial bell tower in recent years and (right) in the 1960s.
St Nicholas's Church war memorial bell tower in recent years and (right) in the 1960s.

The detached bell tower at St Nicholas' Church was constructed 100 years ago as a memorial to those who died in the First World War.

The project was funded by people from the surrounding area, according to tower captain, Robert Foulis.

"They wanted to have a memorial in the parish to the fallen. The cost of the tower itself was something in the region of £3500, so a large amount back then," Mr Foulis added.

"The cost of the bells was prohibitive, and these ended up being gifted by people who had lost loved ones in the war."

Constructed next to the church, itself a centuries-old landmark, large crowds attended the tower's inaugural bell-ringing on November 27, 1920.

The rector at the time was John Frederick MacNeice, father of poet, Louis MacNeice.

However, structural problems, including cracked walls, were noted in the late 1950s.

This led to the new bell tower being demolished and replaced in the early part of the next decade.

Despite this, the original bells cast in 1920 remain.

Plans to formally celebrate the centenary, meanwhile, have been hampered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"There probably would have been a service at the tower to mark the occasion, but unfortunately due to the Covid situation that isn't possible," Mr Foulis added.

"The actual centenary of the bells' first ringing is November 27, so we hope to mention the anniversary at the morning service on the 29th."