TV presenter takes to the storm-boosted roof of Carrickfergus Castle

The stories behind two very different feats of engineering in east Antrim will be revealed in an upcoming episode of UTV’s ‘Ulster Giants’.

Roofing Carrickfergus Castle.
Roofing Carrickfergus Castle.

In this the third series of the popular programme, presenter Joe Mahon has travelled across Northern Ireland and with the help of the experts has shed light on how civil engineering is in operation all around us.

Joe visits Carrickfergus Castle to see what was involved in building its new roof and then heads out the coast to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in Whitehead to meet mechanical engineers of all ages who repair and maintain beautiful steam trains.

Joe discovers that had it not been for the destructive power of Storm Ophelia back in 2017 there might never have been enough oak timber to build a new roof on the castle.

James McNicholl (left) of JPM Contracts and Joe Mahon up on the roof of Carrickfergus Castle

Norman knight John de Courcy might have built the stronghold in the latter half of the 12th century, but since 1928 it has been in state care, and it is now looked after by the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities.

The Department was determined to reconstruct the roof, as near as possible, to the original medieval design, complete with oak trusses and oak boards, and using some almost forgotten construction methods that would have been practised all those centuries ago. Find out from Joe where the trees originated, and the journey they took to eventually end up in Carrickfergus.

Joe then rounds off a day at the seaside with an excursion to the headquarters of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland at Whitehead, where they have managed, in truly impressive style, to turn the clock back to the age of steam.

Run by volunteers, Joe finds out how the members source and acquire old engines and repair them, most times without drawings, all to ensure this golden age is kept alive for generations to come.

Joe Mahon (left) and archaeologist Dr John O'Keefe under the new roof at the castle.

Ulster Giants is produced by Westway Film Productions for UTV and is sponsored by ‘Mid & East Antrim – A Place Shaped by Sea & Stone.’ You can watch this episode on Monday, August 3, at 8pm on UTV and on catch up on


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Joe Mahon (left) and Charles Friel of the Railway Preservation Society at Whitehead.

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