Religious and Cultural Sites

St Nicholas’ Church

Photograph of the spire of St Nicholas' Church, Carrickfergus

St Nicholas' Church was established on the 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.

St Nicholas' Church dominates the centre of Carrickfergus and the area around Market Place, North Street and (the later) Lancasterian Street.  It stands on a slight rise some 200m to the north-west of Carrickfergus Castle.  St Nicholas' was established as the parish churc of Carrickfergus by John de Courcy in the late 12th century, soon after his founding of the new settlement.  The church is as old as the castle and, like that building, has undergone many alterations to its fabric over the last 800 years.

The church is illustrated on all the early maps of Carrickfergus.  The 1560 map, three and a half centuries after the building was founded, portrays the church as cruciform in shape, with a side aisle to the north and an entrance through the western gable.  The slightly later 1567 map shows it with two entrances on the south wall and a small tower on the western gable.  In 1568 St Nicholas' was repaired by Sir Henry Sidney, but on the 1597 map of the town it is again portrayed as roofless, following the attacks of the 1570s.  Substantial restoration did not recommence untl the first quarter of the 17th century, when Sir Arthur Chichester had the transepts rebuilt. Much of the Anglo-Norman masonry was either removed or obscured by these works, and the medieval piers were not uncovered again until works at the church in 1907.

The church that exists today is a fascinating mixture of architectural styles that represents its 800-year life.

As it is a working church there are restrictions and bookings should be made in advance via the church office.


T: 028 9336 0061