Carrickfergus Borough Council - Recent history

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Recent history.

Compared to the upheavals of previous centuries, the 19th and 20th centuries were comparatively quiet for the town of Carrickfergus.  The act of Union in 1801, the Famine of the 1840s and other important dates left their mark but it was the inexorable rise of Carrickfergus’ near neighbour, Belfast, that would most impact socially and economically on the town.

The people of Carrickfergus turned out in their thousands in 1912 when the pride of the White Star Line, RMS Titanic, sailed down Belfast Lough on its fateful journey.  The ship stayed overnight just off the coast at Carrickfergus before continuing on its voyage.

During the First World War, many of the towns young men signed up to take the King’s shilling and fought shoulder to shoulder at the Battle of the Somme, and at other blood drenched engagements.  May did not return home.

Carrickfergus and its environs area has not been without their fair share of characters.  One such was Lilian Bland, the tomboy granddaughter of the Dean of Belfast who, in 1910 – 1911, was the first woman in the world to design, construct and fly a plane.  While building her bi-plane glider, she named it Mayfly, on the basis that “It may fly and it may not”. It successfully left the ground on Carnmoney Hill, with four police constables hanging on to the wings.

In the years 1942 – 1944 Northern Ireland was an important base for US Naval and Air Operations and a training ground for GIs.  The First Battalions of the elite US Rangers were based at the Sunnylands Camp in Carrickfergus for their initial training and induction.  Today the US Rangers Centre is located in the grounds of the Andrew Jackson Cottage.

During the 1970s Carrickfergus gained a considerable reputation in the industrial sector, with the opening of an ICI man-made fibres plant at Kilroot as well as a Rothmans cigarette factory and a Courtaulds plant.  The success of these industrial giants, though striking, was short-lived and more recent decades have seen a refocusing on the seedbed growth of small indigenous businesses, many of which are located within the infrastructure of their multinational forbears.

For further information please contact:

Visitor Information Centre
Telephone: 028 9335 8049
E-Mail: touristinfo@carrickfergus.org