Reopening events to showcase Carrickfergus Castle’s £1m renovations

A £1m restoration project at Carrickfergus Castle will be unveiled to visitors at the end of this month.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 5:38 pm
Work to replace the roof of the Great Tower was part of the overall project. 
Photo by Simon Graham Photography.
Work to replace the roof of the Great Tower was part of the overall project. Photo by Simon Graham Photography.

The conservation work will be revealed at reopening events on February 26 and 27.

Carrick Castle welcomed 48,872 sightseers between April 2019 and January 2020 despite the renovations. There were 456 visitors to the medieval fortress last month.

The visitor information centre at the castle is currently being refurbished to include a purpose-built reception desk and improved refreshment,  retail and seating areas.

According to Tourism Northern Ireland’s visitor attitude survey, Carrick Castle is Mid and East Antrim’s second most popular tourist attraction after The Gobbins in Islandmagee.

Forty-five per cent of tourists visited The Gobbins; 42 per cent visited Carrick Castle; 16 per cent at Glenarm Castle estate; eight per cent visited Slemish and six per cent stopped off at Carrickfergus Museum.

Eight per cent of visitors with children said that the attractions were “family friendly for children of all ages”.

The castle’s keep, cannon and exterior will also be highlighted through a new app which has been produced by a software development company.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Growth Committee has approved half the funding of six iPads, at a cost of £1,104, to be made available to visitors. The Historic Environment Division will fund the remainder.

Ulster Unionist Larne Lough Councillor Keith Turner, who represents the local authority on the Northern Ireland Museums Council, said: “We are trying to promote interactive awareness and technology.”

He suggested that this initiative will attract more visitors and tourists.

Carrick DUP Councillor Cheryl Johnston said it is necessary that the council “moves into the digital era”.

Cllr Johnston seconded the recommendation for funding and suggested that additional council-owned devices could be recycled to supplement this provision.

Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Robert Logan asked if the app could be extended to the android platform and was advised that there may be development opportunities in the future.

Carrick Ulster Unionist Councillor Robin Stewart added: “Anything that promotes the visitor experience in the castle is to be welcomed.”

Ainsley McWilliams, the council’s Head of Tourism, Arts and Cultural Services, said: “As we move through the City Deal process, we hope that the castle moves to become more hi-tech.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter