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Osama bin Laden's son paid summer visit to Carrickfergus Castle

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Trip: Omar bin Laden visited Carrick last summer as well as the Republic of Ireland

Trip: Omar bin Laden visited Carrick last summer as well as the Republic of Ireland

Trip: Omar bin Laden visited Carrick last summer as well as the Republic of Ireland

One of Northern Ireland's most popular landmarks has had the thumbs up from a very unlikely visitor - the son of dead al Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden - and all because of the town's links to a beloved Irish folk song.

Omar bin Laden (39) - who is one of the children from the 9/11 terror chief's first marriage and the only one to publicly condemn his father's deeds - visited Carrickfergus where he enjoyed visiting the castle, posing for pictures.

His visit to Co Antrim, after arriving in the Republic at Dublin Airport, took place some time last summer. However, it only emerged when the Irish Mail on Sunday published the photos at the weekend.

The newspaper reported that a friend revealed Mr bin Laden wanted to visit Carrickfergus because of the popular folk song of the same which has been recorded by countless musical artists over the decades.

There have been versions by The Dubliners, Van Morrison and the Chieftains, and Brian Kennedy. More recently a rendition by Loudon Wainwright III was featured on critically-acclaimed US period crime drama series, Boardwalk Empire.

Although the song is synonymous with the seaside town, there is a school of thought that argues the song may actually refer to a location in the Republic, given the lyrics refer to Kilkenny.

Mr Bin Laden's friend said: "Omar has always wanted to go to Carrickfergus because he loves the song. It's hard to believe he was growing up in the Middle East thinking and dreaming about going to somewhere like Carrickfergus.

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"You would think he would find somewhere like Carrickfergus too cold."

The friend explained: "During his visit to Carrickfergus he went up into the tower of the castle and watched as one of the staff there used an old-style crossbow to demonstrate how the castle was defended in times past."

They added that it was clear Omar was really interested in the history of the castle, and then after enjoying his visit to the historic landmark to pose for pictures on the seafront.

Omar in his younger days travelled to the front line in Afghanistan with some of his father's followers. The experience, however, left him questioning his father's war against the West, which culminated in the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

It is not clear if Mr bin Laden visited anywhere else in Northern Ireland, but is understood his entry to the Republic was not challenged by the authorities.


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