Clarion Hotel Carrickfergus
75 Belfast Rd.
Belfast, XB BT38 8PH
Phone: (44) 289 3364556
Fax: (44) 289 3351620
Enjoy a stunning drive up the Knockagh Hill to view the Knockagh Monument in the village of Greenisland. The war memorial which stands right on top of the hill offers stunning bird's eye view of the Belfast city. This tall monument in the memory of the brave soldiers who lost their lives in the war was set up in 1936. This structure, a miniature of the Wellington Monument in Dublin is a basalt obelisk having bronze panels with names of the war heroes. It is the largest memorial of war in the Northern Ireland and contains inscriptions from the hymm, 'O Valiant Hearts'.
Flame is the only complete Victorian Gasworks in Ireland and Carrickfergus Gasworks has the largest surviving set of horizontal retorts in Western Europe. Built in 1855, it initially produced gas to light up the town's streets. It wasn't until the end of the 19th Century that gas for domestic purposes was produced. You can see the sights and hear the sounds of Belfast's industrial past on a visit to this museum. Educational packs are available for school visits and group bookings are welcome. Tours are also arranged. Call the museum for timings.
It is said that the Normans emptied the limestone quarry across the Lough to decorate their spectacular castle and this church in Carrickfergus, which was once an ecclesiastical centre. John de Courcy built many churches in an attempt to atone for the blood spilled as he fought local chieftains for their land. All that remains is this beautifully preserved 800-year old church, renovated by Sir Arthur Chichester in the 17th century. There are many dazzling stained glass windows, including a 16th-century Flemish John the Baptist window, and there is a crooked aisle representing Christ's tilted head on the cross. Legend tells of secret passages between Dobbin's Inn, the castle and the church, and one of Ulster's most famous poets, Louis MacNeice, grew up in the rectory.
Carrickfergus Castle was built by John de Courcy after the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. The walls are a meter thick with several impressive defense features like arrow slits, twin portcullises and a "murder hole" for raining boiling tar down on stranded enemies below. The center of the castle is the Keep, in which exhibitions divulge intimate details of medieval life. A room is laid out as a banqueting hall, where you can come and party as a private group. On the top floor there's an enormous chessboard and a chest of medieval clothes you can even try on while you play. A café and gift shop complete the tour.
The parents of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, lived at Boneybefore in Carrickfergus before migrating to America. Their son was born in South Carolina and served two terms as president from 1829 to 1837. The ancestral home, a single story thatched farmhouse with an open fireplace, has been reconstructed and is typical of local homes of the period. At the center you can enjoy an audiovisual show covering the emigration of the Ulster Scots, including the Jackson family, to America and see craft work demonstrations and exhibitions. The Jackson's cottage is located less than a mile from the town center just off the Larne Road.
The Holywood Priory, or as the locals reverently call it, the Old Priory, is located at the corner of the Bangor Road, a few minutes walk from the Holywood train station. These magnificent ruins trace their history back to 12th Century (some would debate it to be 7th Century), when a certain Mr. Thomas Whyte built an Augustinian abbey here; much of these ruins are still present at the site. Amidst the ruins is a clock tower that was built in 1800s to mark the parish church of Holywood and an old graveyard where many celebrated Irishmen have been interred. Today the rustic remains of the Old Priory function as a dignified symbol of Ireland's glorious heritage.
Situated in a splendid woodland setting close to Belfast Castle, Belfast Zoo offers great views over the city. One of the most up-to-date zoos in Europe, it has expanded its grounds in recent years to allow maximum enclosure space for its inhabitants, and now stretches practically to the summit of Cave Hill if you follow the recommended route. Belfast Zoo has proved a pioneer in the realm of ethical zoo keeping and houses elephants, giraffes, kangaroos and gibbons alongwith varieties of birds.
Overlooked by the Old Inn, a thatched hotel which has been around since 1614, the park has something for everyone including shaded country walks, a large, popular beach, a stunning waterfall, a five arch railway viaduct. In the Countryside Centre, audio-visual displays giving an in-depth introduction to the area. Relax afterwards in the Conservatory Restaurant, or enjoy an ice cream from one of the many vans in the park.
More than 100 types of birds can be seen from the glass-fronted observation room at this nature reserve and telescopes provide a close-up view of the many Oystercatchers, Curlews, Godwits, Dunlins and Redshanks. An illustrated display tells the story of the Lough. Outdoor viewpoints are permanently open for those prepared to brave the elements. Visit at high tide to see the largest number of birds. If you can pick the best season, come in autumn and see as many as 1,000 Godwits recently arrived from Iceland to winter in Ireland's milder climes.
Holywood Exchange is a large retail park situated between Belfast and Holywood. This park consists of stores like Harvery Norman, Decathlon, Ikea, Next Home and BHS-British Home. Locate adjacent to the airport, this site was formerly called as D5 and Harbour Exchange. It is a 150,000 square feet (13,940 square metre) retail centre and was once entailed in legal disputes. Comprising of eleven units, this site is advantageous because of it's excellent roadway connections.
The Belfast City Council pulled off a herculean task of converting a major landfill site into the Giant Park. The project involved redeveloping a waste landfill site of 0.81 square kilometers (200 acres) into a park for the social development of the city. The park now provides space for educational purposes as well as for festivals. Located in the north of Belfast on the Dargan road, this park's name is derived from the nearby hill called the Cavehill which was the inspiration for Gulliver's Travels, the renowned work of Jonathan Swift. The basaltic hill appeared like a sleeping giant gave the idea for his book as a giant that is protecting the city.
Set on the wooded slopes of the dramatic Cave Hill is the 19th-century edifice of Belfast Castle. The castle was built in 1870 and was previously home to the Earl of Shaftesbury. Within the castle are two rather expensive restaurants and also a small heritage center offering an insight into the area's history. There is a playground for children. The castle and its spectacular grounds afford beautiful views of the whole city and across Belfast Lough. If you feel like venturing beyond the grounds, there are walks which lead you up to the foot of Napoleon's Nose and to the caves that gave the Cave Hill its name. Check website for varying open hours.