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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Antrim County > Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus (from the Irish: Carraig Fhearghais meaning "Rock of Fergus") is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 27,201 people recorded in the 2001 Census. The town is the administrative centre for Carrickfergus Borough Council. It is Co. Antrim's oldest town and takes its name from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, the 6th century king of Dál Riata. Due to the expansion of Belfast, Carrickfergus is often considered by many to be a large district of the city, as it now forms part of the Belfast Metropolitan Region.

The town is the subject of a classic Irish folk song entitled "Carrickfergus", a 19th century translation of an Irish-language song from Munster, which begins with the words, "I wish I was in Carrickfergus."

Carrickfergus stands on the north shore of Belfast Lough and is home to the 12th century Carrickfergus Castle, one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland. It was built around 1180 by John de Courcy. The church of St. Nicholas also dates from the late 12th century.

As an urban settlement, Carrickfergus predates Belfast and was for a lengthy period both larger and more prominent than the nearby city. Belfast Lough itself was called 'Carrickfergus Bay' well into the 17th century. Carrickfergus and the surrounding area was, for a time, treated as a separate county, although it is today part of County Antrim.

The Battle of Carrickfergus, part of the Nine Years War, took place in and around the town in November 1597. It was fought between the crown forces of Queen Elizabeth I and the Scots clan of MacDonnell, and resulted in a defeat for the English.

In 1637 the town sold its customs rights - which ran from Groomsport in County Down up to Larne in County Antrim - to Belfast and this in part led to its decline in importance as the province of Ulster grew. Nevertheless, the decaying castle withstood several days of siege by the forces of William of Orange in 1689, before surrendering on 28 August; William himself subsequently landed at Carrickfergus on 14 June 1690. During the Seven Years' War, in February 1760, the whole town was briefly captured and held to ransom by French troops landed from Francois Thurot's naval squadron, after the defenders ran out of ammunition.

In April 1778 John Paul Jones attempted to capture a British Royal Navy sloop of war, HMS Drake, moored at Carrickfergus; having failed, he returned a few days later and challenged Drake to a fight out in the North Channel which the Americans won decisively.

The town was formerly an important centre for the textile industry. It now is a centre for leisure sailing, and is home to Carrickfergus Marina and Carrickfergus Sailing Club. The town is part of the Greater Belfast conurbation, being 11.4 miles (18.3 km) from Belfast city centre.

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Antrim Town
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In: Antrim
People: 27,201
Speak: English
Type: Market Town
GPS: -5.803, 54.716