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Carrickfergus is a large town in County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom, and it has a population of more than 27 000 inhabitants. It is County Antrim's oldest town and gets its name from Fergus Mor mac Eirc, the 6th century king of Dal Riata, deriving from the Irish "Carraig Fhearghais", which means "Rock of Fergus". One of the aspects that made Carrickfergus popular is the fact that it is the subject of a classic Irish folk song entitled "Carrickfergus", a 19th century translation of an Irish-language song called "Do Bhi Bean Uasal", from Munster, which begins with the words, "I wish I was in Carrickfergus."
Carrickfergus is an exciting destination, a town with charm and a wonderful fusion of old and new. It is the most archaeologically explored town in Northern Ireland, and, the finds on display at Carrickfergus Museum is a statement to that, the museum providing visitors a remarkable glimpse into the life in the town, from the Medieval period to more recent times. Carrickfergus Museum, considered to be one of Carrickfergus' most popular attractions, offers historical collections displayed and interpreted using a range of media, including audio-visual presentations and hands-on interactives.
Also worth checking out, when visiting Carrickfergus, are considered the Marine Gardens, which include sunken gardens, a clock tower, children's play area, manicured lawns and the town's war memorial, Knot Garden, a recreation of the formal Jacobean Knot Garden Palace, home to Sir Arthur Chichester, who supervised the building of stone Town Wall, in 1608, and Shaftsbury Park, which consists of tree lined avenues, with rose and shrub beds, offering visitors the ideal place for a quiet stroll or to watch summer bowling.
A pleasant way to take in the main attractions of the town would be by following the Timeless Trail, which travels along the Carrickfergus Waterfront, revealing attractions such as the Town Hall and Carrickfergus Castle, St Nicholas' Church, the Gasworks Museum, Legg Park, the US Rangers Centre and the Andrew Jackson Cottage.
Although the town used to be an important centre for the textile industry, today, Carrickfergus is a centre for leisure sailing, and is home to Carrickfergus Marina and Carrickfergus Sailing Club. It has many places of touristic interest, within and around its limits, among the most significant being the 12th century Carrickfergus Castle, one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Ireland, built around 1180, by John de Courcy.
Carrickfergus is also famous for being the site where the Battle of Carrickfergus, part of the Nine Years War, took place in and around the town, in November, 1597. It was fought between the crown forces of Queen Elizabeth I and the Scots clan of MacDonnell, and resulted in a defeat for the English.