Time lapse footage captures new roof emerging at Carrick Castle
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The Minister was speaking during an event at Carrick Castle this morning, following the completion of a £1million project to replace the roof at the historic landmark.
The castle has been in state care since 1928 and is managed by the Historic Environment Division within the Department for Communities.
On-site works to replace the roof of the Great Tower began in March 2019, with the design featuring green Irish oak trusses constructed using traditional techniques.
Recalling how she used to visit the castle with family as a child, Minister Hargey said that the investment has secured the future of the monument for generations to come.
The Carrickfergus area is also set to benefit from a wider regeneration programme as part of the Belfast Region City Deal. "We want to use Carrickfergus as a key gateway to draw people from Belfast towards the Causeway Coastal Route," the Minister said.
"Obviously the castle is one of our most important built heritage assets; we want to keep people here for longer and having a viable tourist attraction will allow us to do that. Part of that will include a public realm scheme and public space at the front of the castle.
"There will also be further investment at the Gobbins Path, so it's just about tying all that together and increasing the tourism potential of the area."
Meanwhile, conservation works at the castle are an "ongoing" process, according to John O'Keeffe from the Historic Environment Division. "We are always reviewing the conservation needs of the castle, and at the moment we are looking at the eastern sea tower," he said.
The castle complex remained open throughout the project, with only the Keep and Inner Ward closed as construction works were carried out.
The landmark attracted approximately 49,000 visitors in 2019, according to DfC.