The Gobbins Cliff Path has been getting plenty of publicity since reopening last summer and Carrickfergus Castle also gets its fair share of tourists, but were you aware of these other places of interest in East Antrim?
1. Ballylumford Dolmen
Ballylumford Road, Islandmagee, BT40 3RN
Known locally as the ‘Druid’s Altar’, Ballylumford Dolmen is a portal tomb erected about 4000 years ago during the Neolithic period. It was built by the first people who lived on Islandmagee. Now standing at the front of a family home, the dolmen is one of the world’s greatest authentic garden features.
2. Whitehead Promenade
Marine Parade, Whitehead, BT38 9QN
The promenade at Whitehead is a wonderful place for a stroll and to take in the fresh sea air. You can marvel at the multi-coloured Victorian and Edwardian villas on one side or the stunning views across Belfast Lough on the other.
3. Kilcoan Gardens
240 Middle Road, Islandmagee, BT40 3TG – kilcoangardens.com
Situated on the peninsula of Islandmagee, Kilcoan Gardens consists of a cottage garden, orchard, vegetable area, herb garden and a recently established cut flower field and woodland walk. Organically maintained, the gardens are full of a variety of wildlife. Garden visits, flower workshops and events can be arranged.
4. Chichester Castle
Marine Parade, Whitehead, BT38 9QN
The ruins of Castle Chichester can be seen at Chester Avenue and Marine Parade in Whitehead. A square tower house, it was built around 1604 by an English soldier called Sir Moses Hill. By the middle of the 17th century a sizeable village had grown around the castle.
5. North Gate
North Street, Carrickfergus, BT38 8AE
Between 1608 and 1615 a stone wall, with four gates known as Irish Gate, North Gate, Quay Gate and Water Gate were built around Carrickfergus to protect the town, assist with collection of tolls and taxes and ensure the curfew could be enforced. A large portion of the town wall has survived, but the only gate that remains is the North Gate in North Street in the town centre.
6. The White House
34 Whitehouse Park, Newtownabbey, BT37 9SQ – antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk
The White House is a stone fortified dwelling built in the late 1500s, which has been restored as an impressive visitor centre. It has exhibitions which tell the story of the story of the Williamite and Jacobite Wars (1688-1691) from a European perspective and chronicle the history of this historic building. It was at the White House that King William III, following his landing at Carrickfergus on 14 June 1690, met General Schomberg and his army prior to the Battle of the Boyne.
And there’s more…
The Sheils Almshouses in Carrickfergus, built between 1868 and 1870, are one of five institutes in Ireland established through the bequest of Charles Sheils (1782-1861) who left £90,000 to provide rent-free houses for the poor in old age.
Andrew Jackson Cottage
The Andrew Jackson Cottage highlights Carrickfergus’ strong American and Ulster-Scots connections. It also tells the story of Andrew Jackson, Seventh President of the USA, whose parents emigrated to America from Carrickfergus in 1765. Located at Boneybefore, less than a mile from Carrickfergus town centre, off the Larne Road, this single storey building has been restored to its original state.
St Nicholas’ Church
St Nicholas’ Church was established on this site in 1182 by the Anglo-Norman, John de Courcy, but underwent major reconstruction in the early 1600s. One of the most historic churches in Northern Ireland, symbolism and history are interwoven into the church’s fabric. It is open for visitors during the summer months, but pre-booked tours can be arranged throughout the year subject to the availability of the church and a tour guide. As it is a working church there are restrictions and bookings should be made in advance via the church office.
Located on top of Knockagh Hill, above the village of Greenisland, Knockagh Monument is the County Antrim War Memorial. It was initially erected in remembrance of the men from County Antrim who had died in the First World War (1914-1918). Although the foundation stone was laid in 1922, the monument was not completed until 1936. After the Second World War (1939-1945), it was dedicated to those from the county who had fallen in both wars. From the monument, you can enjoy panoramic views of Belfast, Carrickfergus and across Belfast Lough.
Templecorran Church and Graveyard
Situated in Ballycarry village, on the site of an early Christian monastery, is the roofless ruins of the medieval Templecorran Church. In 1613, Edward Brice, the first Presbyterian minister in Ireland came from Scotland to serve the Templecorran congregation. In the graveyard there is an impressive memorial to the weaver poet and United Irishman, James Orr (1770-1816), who is often referred to as Ulster’s Robert Burns.
Majestically perched on a cliff edge near Whitehead, Blackhead Lighthouse is part of the Great Lighthouse Trail. Opened in 1902, the lighthouse continues to play a vital role in protecting shipping on Belfast Lough. You can now stay in the lightkeepers’ houses, which have been beautifully restored by the Irish Landmark Trust.
Railway Preservation Society of Ireland
Whitehead is the home of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI), where it houses and maintains historic steam and diesel locomotives and vintage carriages. There is a museum and on open days the Society runs short rides by steam train from Whitehead Excursion Station. In addition, the Society operates longer steam-hauled excursions over the present day Irish railway network for families and enthusiasts.
The award winning marina at Carrickfergus has excellent amenities for berthing, setting sail and relaxing, with an experienced customer service team ready to greet visitors at any time of the day or night. The marina is located within a modern complex, including a hotel, restaurants, cafes and bars as well as a supermarket and multi-screen cinema. It is also close to the magnificent 12th Century Norman castle and historic town centre.
For more information on places to see in East Antrim visit eastantrimcoastalway.com