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Definition: Carrickfergus from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Administrative region in the east of Northern Ireland, on the northern shore of Belfast Lough, serving an easterly unit of County Antrim; area 81 sq km/31 sq mi; population (2001) 37,700. The towns under the council's remit include Carrickfergus, Whitehead, and Greenisland. The principal sources of employment include engineering, electricity, and tourism.


Summary Article: Carrickfergus
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Seaport on Belfast Lough, County Antrim, Northern Ireland; population (2001) 27,200. There is some light industry, and the town is a major centre for the man-made fibre industry. Manufacturing industries include die-casting, telecommunications, electronics, and salt mining.

Carrickfergus is reputedly named after Fergus McErc, ruler of the former kingdom of Dalriada, and a king of Scotland during the 6th century. The town was the site of a number of conflicts between English and Irish troops from the 14th–17th centuries, and was briefly held by the French army under Thurot in 1760. The town was the main port of medieval Ulster but declined from the 17th century onwards, with the development of Belfast.

Carrickfergus Castle, situated on a basalt promontory guarding the entrance to Belfast Lough, is largely a Norman structure. Construction was begun in 1180 by John de Courcy, and there are a series of defensive additions dating from the 13th–16th centuries. The central keep is 18 m/60 ft square and 27 m/90 ft high. English restoration dramatist and poet William Congreve, spent part of his childhood in the castle, where his father was a soldier. Medieval banquets and the Lughnasa Festival, a harvest celebration, are held annually in the castle grounds.

Parts of the Protestant Church of St Nicholas date from the end of the 12th century, but the church is largely a 17th- and 18th-century construction with some modern additions. The church contains a monument to English soldier and viceroy Arthur Chichester, a former governor of Carrickfergus. The father of the Northern Irish poet Louis MacNeice was a rector of the parish.

Some remains of the town walls, dating from the 17th century, can still be seen, and there is a statue at the harbour commemorating the landing of William III (William of Orange) here in 1690. There is an historical theme park in the centre of the town. 3 km/2 mi north of Carrickfergus is the Andrew Jackson Centre, a restored 17th-century cottage housing a museum commemorating the life of US president Andrew Jackson, whose father emigrated from Carrickfergus in 1765. The ruins of Kilroot church, where Irish satarist Jonathan Swift was minister between 1694 and 1696, are 3 km/2 mi northeast of the town.

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