New roof for Carrick Castle’s keep

The leaking roof of the Great Hall at Carrickfergus Castle. INCT 02-012-PSB
The leaking roof of the Great Hall at Carrickfergus Castle. INCT 02-012-PSB

Carrick Castle is one step closer to a major face-lift after contractors were appointed to design a replacement roof for the Great Tower.

The announcement was made this week by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan and forms part of an overall £1.4m investment by the Department at the medieval landmark.

Belfast-based Kennedy-FitzGerald Architects will oversee the works at the Great Tower or ‘keep’, with the design drawing inspiration from medieval and Tudor history.

The roof will be an historically-appropriate timber A-frame ‘butt-purlin’, which will be made in an authentic traditional manner by a scribe woodwright.

It will replace a leaking flat roof, which was put into the castle in the 1930s.

The history of the castle itself stretches back 800 years, with the monument having come into state care in the 1920s.

It is one of the best-preserved examples of Anglo-Norman castle architecture in Ulster and one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the UK or Ireland.

Welcoming this historic milestone, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “Carrickfergus Castle is a treasured historic monument; it is a key heritage asset and it is also a major economic asset for the whole region.

“I want to secure the long-term conservation of Carrickfergus Castle so that generations of people today and in the future can continue to enjoy the site and so that it can continue to contribute to our society and economy.

“This castle has stood for over 800 years on our coastline. This project marks a major phase in the castle’s history, with the design of a roof of green Irish oak, made in an historically and traditionally authentic way.

“This project is one that really demonstrates how important our built and archaeological heritage is to our local economy.

“It is a major attraction for visitors from all over the world as well as closer to home. It is a project that also underlines the importance of specialist construction skills, especially craft conservation skills that are needed to conserve our unique heritage sites and buildings.”