New £1m roof for Carrickfergus Castle’s great tower

Carrickfergus Castle.
Carrickfergus Castle.

The Department of Communities has today announced a £1m roof replacement for Carrickfergus Castle’s great tower.

The work is due to start in autumn 2018 and will replace the existing flat roof which has been in place for the past 80 years.

The new roof will be in keeping with late-medieval architecture of the castle. It will be made from Irish oak used ‘green’ and oak-pegged without the use of nails or metal fixings. It will be a series of open trusses and rafters carrying oak boards. Externally the roof will be finished in Cumbrian stone slates and lead.

The external appearance of the castle, the department added, will not look significantly different from ground level as the roof will be behind the battlements. However, internally, the great hall at the top of the tower will be transformed into a higher, brighter and more historically resonant space.

The keep will also be warmer and drier allowing the full use of the space for historic artefacts, displays and functions.

The project will be managed by the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division. Its director Iain Greenway said: “This is a major milestone in the history of Carrickfergus Castle, one of our best-known and most-visited historic monuments. The new roof will safeguard and enhance the castle so that its heritage will continue to have a lead role in the social and economic prosperity of the whole area.

“It is intended that public access to the site will be maintained throughout the works and that as far as is practicable visitors will be able to see the building work in progress.

“Visitors to the castle will get the opportunity to see the new roof unfold and archaeology that may reveal elements to the battlements that have not been seen for many years.”

The castle, which was founded in the late twelfth century by John de Courcy, a young Anglo-Norman knight who led a military expedition into Ulster, is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known historic monuments. It has been in state care since 1928.

Welcoming the investment, Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said: “We are excited to see this fantastic investment to further enhance one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic tourist attractions. Carrickfergus continues to make its mark on the tourism industry as we peel back its history, revealing its many hidden gems.

“This development will create more space and ultimately increase footfall to the local area. Already from working with the department, we have seen increased visitor numbers and extended summer opening hours, so this latest significant investment is another example of how partnership working is befitting both the local and regional economy.”

For those unable to make it in person to castle, regular updates will be video streamed on the LoveHeritageNI Facebook page