Belfast Telegraph

New roof will help Carrick Castle battle the elements

By Gerald Lennon

The great tower of Carrickfergus Castle is set to receive a new roof.

The £1 million scheme is due to start in the autumn and will see the existing 80-year-old flat roof taken down and replaced to help combat water leakage.

In keeping with the castle's medieval architecture, the new roof will be made from Irish oak and oak-pegged, without the use of nails or metal fixings.

The structure will consist of a series of open trusses and rafters carrying oak boards.

Externally, the roof will be finished in Cumbrian stone slates and lead, but the view of the castle from the outside will not change significantly.

Iain Greenway, director of the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division, explained: "This is a major milestone in the history of Carrickfergus Castle, one of our best-known and most-visited historic monuments.

"The new roof will safeguard and enhance the castle so that its heritage will continue to have a lead role in the social and economic prosperity of the whole area."

The building is one of Northern Ireland's best-known historic monuments and was one of its earliest settlements.

It was once the base for William the Conqueror and later played a role during the First World War as a garrison and ordnance store while in the Second World War it became an air raid shelter.

Originally founded in the late 12th century by a young Anglo-Norman knight, John de Courcy, it's one of the most complete examples of Norman architecture in the whole of the British Isles.

The decision was made to reimagine its roof to help battle the castle's ongoing water penetration problems, and Iain and his crew took the opportunity to rejuvenate the site to take it back to its Tudor period.

Mr Greenway said: "It is intended that public access to the site will be maintained throughout the works and that as far as is practicable visitors will be able to see the building work in progress.

"Visitors will get the opportunity to see the new roof unfold and archaeology that may reveal elements to the battlements that have not been seen for years."

Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, commented: "We are excited to see this fantastic investment to further enhance one of Northern Ireland's most iconic tourist attractions."

The project could be completed by May next year.

Belfast Telegraph

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