Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle situated in the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim, on the northern shore of Belfast Lough.
The castle was built in 1177 by John de Courcy and is still remarkably intact, making it perfect for exploring.
From the outside of the castle, you can see various models looking through windows, or guarding the towers which really bring the history to life.
The kids were most fascinated by the “murder hole” in the ceiling of the gateway. It would have been used in defence of the castle, allowing defenders to fire, throw or pour harmful substances or objects, such as rocks, arrows, scalding water, hot sand, quicklime, tar, or boiling oil, down on attackers.
There were other rooms to explore too, including the murder room and it’s Chapel.
As well as the historical displays, there are also cannons from the 17th to the 19th centuries in various locations around the castle.
During its 800 year history, Carrickfergus Castle has been besieged by the Scots, English, Irish and French at various points and has racked up over 750 years of continuous military occupation until 1928.
We were surprised by how close some of the castle rooms were to the water and found it really interesting seeing how it would have been defended, both from the land and the water.
The best bit about exploring castles is not only finding all the nooks and crannies, but climbing the castle walls and surveying your kingdom below.
It was such a shame that it was a murky day, as the view from the top is stunning.
As we visited in half term, they had a craft workshop in the Keep where the kids could make a crown, keyring and / or a Mothers’ Day Card.
Of course, the kids insisted on trying all the crafts on offer and all proudly wore their crowns for the rest of the day.
Also in the Keep, is a display of how they are maintaining the building, including putting a new roof on the castle.
We visited Carrickfergus Castle whilst travelling the Northern Ireland Coastal Road and spent around 90 minutes exploring.
Entry to the castle costs £15.00 for a family (up to five members).