Work starts on new roof for Carrickfergus Castle Keep

Carrickfergus Castle.
Carrickfergus Castle.

Medieval architecture will be drawn upon as work commences on a new roof for Carrickfergus Castle Great Tower as part of a £1 million conservation project.

The contract, which starts this month and is expected to last approximately six months, will see JPM Contracts Ltd of Dungiven carry out the dismantling of the existing flat roof and the construction of a new one that has been designed to be in keeping with the late-medieval architecture of the castle.

The project will be managed by the Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division. Its Director, Iain Greenway, said: “This is the largest capital investment by the Department for Communities in one of our State Care Monuments in recent years.

“The works, which are now moving into the construction phase, will safeguard and enhance this internationally-important castle and ensure that heritage delivers for the social and economic prosperity of the whole area.”

A flat roof was put on the Great Tower (the Keep) in the 1930s. For many years, however, there has been persistent leaking of rainwater into the upper floor of the 12th-century tower. The new roof will be made from Irish Oak used ‘green’ and work to assemble it will be conducted on site.

Colum McNicholl from JPM Contracts Ltd said: “We are delighted to be working on this unique construction project at Carrickfergus Castle. The new roof, which draws from medieval architecture, will be a show-piece of good conservation, practice and skills.

“The work, involving stone-masons, carpentry and lead workers will ensure the integrity of the Keep for generations to come.”

The complex will remain open throughout the project, however the Keep and Inner Ward will be closed as construction works happen.

Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said: “Excitement is building around this project as the enormous potential of Carrickfergus Castle is being realised.”

Images, including video footage of the works, will be available shortly after the project starts so that the visitors and the wider public can keep up to date with progress.