WE ARE BACK!

Starting from Saturday 23 May 2020

Revised route, new content, restricted group size, name your own price.

On 18 May 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive announced some amendments to the COVID-19 containment measures.

One of those changes allows for small gatherings (up to 6 people) from more than one household in an outdoor environment – provided effective Social Distancing is maintained.

Getting out of the house seems more important than ever. Combining exercise, fresh air and a bit of education seems like a good way to spend some of your time.

I could do with ‘keeping my hand in’ and I’ve also taken the calculated decision to renew my Public Liability Insurance.

Consequently, I will be offering Guided Walking Tours of Carrickfergus, looking specifically at events here during the Second World War, on the following basis:

  • There will be no “just turn up” Tours – all must be pre-arranged. Drop me an email (leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com), give me a call/text (+44 7916780474), or send me a Facebook Message (https://www.facebook.com/leadthewaytour), and I’ll do my very best to organise a day and time that suits you.
  • Tours can be delivered on most days: morning, afternoon or evening.
  • Each pre-arranged Tour must be made up of people who are known to each other.
  • Maximum of 5 persons on each Tour.
  • Those who come on the Tour MUST adhere to Social Distancing.

PUBLIC SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT

ROUTE

The Tour route will be slightly different than before, to ensure it is delivered within the official guidance in regard to outdoor spaces.

It is about 1.3 miles long, and will take around 90 minutes to complete.

The route is on level ground with safe crossing points.

If you want to include more exercise into your Tour, it can be extended up to 3 miles to include walking out of the Town Centre to some of the locations that I talk about.

CONTENT

The Tour covers the following topics:

  • Background on the Churchill Tank displayed on the Marine Highway, the North Irish Horse Regiment that used it during the Second World War, and why Carrickfergus was so important in the development of the Tank
  • Factories in Carrickfergus that made a hugely significant contribution to the War effort
  • Domestic life in the town: The Home Front
  • The special uses of the town’s Civic Buildings
  • How the Town Centre’s infrastructure changed throughout the War, particularly when the American Troops arrived
  • The Sunnylands Army Camp – from British to American to Belgian occupation
  • The formation, and onward journey, of the US Rangers
  • A new Belgian Army
  • Carrickfergus Military Prison and Detention Barracks
  • The Military Petrol Distributing Centre

I use approximately 150 photographs to help tell the story of events in Carrickfergus during the Second World War. These photos have been enlarged to A4 size, so are visible from 2 metres to maintain social distancing.

I also have a few exhibits which I bring along. However, due to their fragility, if the weather conditions are not favourable I may not be able to display these –  apologies in advance if this is the case on your Tour.

 On a “normal” Tour, I display these in an indoor environment.

NAME YOUR PRICE

There is no set cost for the Tour, in the current circumstances. At the conclusion of each Tour you can, if you want, make a donation of your own choice. Although this would be very welcomed to help cover my set-up and running costs, it is not a requirement.

PREVIOUS PARTICIPANTS

Anyone who has previously been on my Tour may wish to know that during the lockdown I have spent considerable time adding content to the Tour. If you would like to join me for an Update Tour, where I only cover the additional content from the previous Tour, please get in touch.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch.

Adrian

More than a Castle

When I suggest to someone that they should come and visit Carrickfergus, I usually get the same response.

“Oh, I hear it has a Castle.”

Well, yes it does. And a very good one at that. Almost 850 years old and in remarkable condition. It’s a real castle, too. Not an artificial “Game of Thrones” film location. Worth going on one of the free guided tours.

There’s much more to Carrickfergus than the Castle, though.

The Carrickfergus story

The museum in the Civic Centre may be compact and bijou, but there is enough there to tell the story of Carrickfergus through the ages.

If you want a really edited version of the town’s history, pop into Market Place and a handful of wall plaques display a neat timeline.

Medieval

Almost as old is Saint Nicholas Church. Obviously it has been through a few revisions over the centuries, but it remains on the same plot as the original. Internal visits are offered, though the Church is not always open. If you get the chance to see inside, you won’t be disappointed.

The defensive Town Walls are well preserved, with the majority of them still standing. There are information boards placed at strategic points around the walls. Start just to the right of the local library. The first board will set the route out for you.

Victorian

The only preserved Victorian gasworks in Ireland is just outside the town centre. More interesting than you may think. Constructed in 1855, it supplied the town with coal gas right up to 1967. Those Victorian engineers built things to last!

Second World War

During the Second World War, Carrickfergus was a veritable hive of activity. It had a tank factory, a linen works converted to make parachutes (and a few other items for the war effort), it was a base for various military units (British, American and Belgian), and a United States special operations force was created here. Little of the wartime infrastructure remains, but this is where my Tour comes in (unashamed plug). It brings the events that took place in Carrickfergus during the Second World War to life.

Food and Drink

Of course, it you are going to spend a day or two in the town, you will need fed and watered. Did you know there are more sit-in places to catch a light snack or meal within a half-mile radius of the Castle than there are letters in the alphabet?

Getting here couldn’t be easier

If travelling by public transport, the train station is only a few hundred yards from the town centre and the bus drops you off even closer.
There are plenty of car parks dotted around, with the Harbour one (only 150 yards on the Belfast side of the Castle) the most convenient – and it’s free.

And there’s more….

If you are prepared to venture a little further, the Andrew Jackson Centre and the US Rangers Museum are jointly located about a mile towards Larne.

So, yes, do come and visit Carrickfergus.

Marvel at our beautiful Castle, but don’t miss out on the rest of the town’s offerings.

Top Tip: please check the opening times of these attractions before you travel. They vary a bit, and some may require advance notice of your intention to visit. Click on the attractions that are in bold to take you to an appropriate website.

Recent Reviews (taken from the Tour’s Facebook Page)

As the Tour season moves towards a slowdown over the winter, I would like to thank those who have already gone on a Tour with me. I have been delighted with the feedback so far.

Here are some examples of what recent guests on my Tour have had to say:

“Just completed the Lead the Way tour…. absolutely brilliant and very informative. Great to learn so much about the wee town where I live and its involvement in the war effort! Couldn’t recommend it highly enough!”

“A fantastic tour around my home town and learnt a lot that I didn’t know in my 28 years living there. Adrian’s knowledge of Carrickfergus as a whole was excellent as well. Highly recommended.”

”Great presentation at a steady pace and very informative. Highly recommended.”

”Did the tour this morning excellent and well worth the wee walk great presentation and delivery I highly recommend it what a wealth of history around this great town .”

Please note that from the end of October until the Spring (exact date will be published closer to the time) there will be no “Just Turn Up” Tours planned.

However, Tours can be offered during this period on request – just get in touch.