Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bangor versus Carrickfergus...This Round To Bangor

Carrickfergus lies on Belfast Lough opposite the town of Bangor. Bangor and Carrick have been rivals for hundreds of years, indeed long before Belfast even existed. Carrickfergus's antecedents date back to sixth century taking its name from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, the 6th-century king of Dál Riata, the perhaps legendary, first king of Scotland. According to historian Michael Wood Fergus Mor may have been a confederate of King Arthur. Carrickfergus however really got going in the twelfth century when the Normans arrived and built their castle there. 
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The Normans of course were civilised Vikings and Bangor has a less happy Viking connection too. This from Wikipedia: 

The Annals of Ulster tells us that the monastery of Bangor was founded by Saint Comgall in approximately 555[11] and was where the Antiphonarium Benchorense was written, a copy of which can be seen in the town's heritage centre. The monastery had such widespread influence that the town is one of only four places in Ireland to be named in the Hereford Mappa Mundi in 1300. The monastery, situated roughly where the Church of Ireland Bangor Abbey currently stands at the head of the town, became a centre of great learning and was among the most eminent of Europe’s missionary institutions in the Early Middle Ages, although it also suffered greatly at the hands of Viking raiders in the 8th century and the 9th century.

The two towns Bangor and Carrickfergus faced each other across the four miles of lough when Belfast wasn't even a village. I was born and grew up in Carrickfergus so my instincts are to promote Carrick at every opportunity. Carrick has the castle but Bangor has Rory McIlroy. Bangor has Colin Bateman but Carrick had Jonathan Swift. Etc. 
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Unfortunately Bangor has taken a big lead in the cool stakes as far as I'm concerned. As a kid JG Ballard was my favourite novelist and my favourite two JG Ballard books were Crash and High Rise so when I heard that Ben Wheatley - my favourite British film director - was making High Rise into a movie I was very excited. High Rise takes place in London but for some reason Wheatley has chosen to film it in Bangor and Belfast. Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Elisabeth Moss, Sienna Miller, James Purefoy have all been hanging out along the Bangor seafront. One of my favourite books is being turned into a film by my favourite director starring some of my favourite actors and its being filmed in Bangor. Carrickfergus recently had Ben Kingsley in town to make a movie but still Ben Wheatley & JG Ballard & Tom Hiddleston are much cooler...You win Bangor...this time anyway.