Carrickfergus CastleWhenever I hear the beautiful Irish fiolk song, “I wish I was in Carrickfergus”, I always think about the Castle. It is, after all, the most prominent feature in the town, so long as you stay West of the castle, so that you cannot see the ugly electricity power station that some Philistine has positioned further East to spoil the view!
Carrickfergus is situated on the northern coast of Belfast Lough, in the province of Northern Ireland. Because of its importance in Irish culture and history, it may be important for my American friends to point out that Carrickfergus is in Northern Ireland, which is a province of the United Kingdom – not part of the Republic of Ireland.
The Castle 1840The Castle 1840The castle was built in the late 12th and early 13th Century by the Anglo-Norman knight, John de Courcey. Like most Norman castles, its current tranquil appearance belies its turbulent past. One notable event, which changed the course of Western history, was the seige of Carrickfergus Castle by William III in 1689. The castle was held by Jacobites (supporters of the ousted King James II), but William's forces eventually prevailed, giving him a base from which to regroup, before taking his troops south to meet those of James by the River Boyne. Had James won “The Battle of the Boyne” in 1690, Britain would have returned to being a Catholic country, basically ruled by the Vatican and its vassals in Spain. However, the battle was a victory for William and the Protestant forces, keeping Britain safe for the proclamation of the Gospel. It is fair to say that had William not prevailed, there would have been no freedom for Wesley and Whitfield to preach in Britain. Every major important social change that we know stemmed from that revival, which would have been impossible but for the Battle of the Boyne.
Today, Carrickfergus Castle is a thing of beauty. Even the Troubles of 1969 – 1998 appear to be over for good. I have visited the town and castle many times, during speaking tours of the Province, and this view from the marina is one of my favorites.