Carrickfergus Castle is a Norman castle built by John de Courcy in 1177 after he conquered eastern Ulster. Situated in the town of Carrickfergus, it is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Ireland.
The castle’s strategic position meant it was used as a military fort for centuries, right up until 1928. Famously, King William III first set foot in Ireland here in 1690, on his way to do battle with King James II – a battle that had enormous repercussions for the history of Ireland and that is still celebrated every year by the Orange Order in Northern Ireland.
A 20 minute drive from Belfast, the castle is often the first stop on tours of the Antrim coast and Giant’s Causeway. It costs £5 to go inside for a tour of the castle, however you likely won’t have time for this if you are on a Giants Causeway bus tour, as they usually only stop at the castle for about 20 or 30 minutes – just enough time to walk around the outside and take some photos (you might also want to take advantage of the free public toilets in the car park as the next stop will probably be over an hour away on the north coast). If you want to come back by yourself later to spend more time at the castle you can get the train to Carrickfergus (on the Belfast to Larne line).
Photography tip: If you are on a tour the bus will stop in the car park on the west side of the castle. Everyone will get out of the bus and take photos of the castle and the statue of King William III. I recommend you leave them to it, and quickly walk around to the other side of the castle to get your photos of that side before everyone else comes round. Hopefully you can get some nice shots of the castle without lots of tourists in the picture. Then you can get your photos of King Billy and the west side of the castle when you are walking back to the bus.