Carrickfergus is a picturesque town on Belfast Lough, an inlet of the Irish Sea. The foreboding Norman Carrickfergus Castle juts out into the water. We stopped overnight here on our way from Dublin up toward Antrim. The town is the perfect size for us, it has a few grocery stores, plenty of restaurants and pubs, beautiful surroundings, and this town even has a movie theater (often called "cineplex" in Ireland).
We stayed in a budget chain hotel here, Premier Inn. They aren't very charming but they are clean, comfortable, modern and most importantly cheap. They remind me of American chain hotels and some might loathe such lodging but when we pepper them into our trip, we save a little money. They are primarily in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Our stay at Premier Inn cost us $63 while our cheapest B & B cost us $92. Premier Inns don't have breakfast included - they are about $12.75 extra per person for a full Irish buffet. We have done this once in the past and it isn't worth it and isn't very good. So we just hopped over to a restaurant that had a fresh Irish breakfast - entirely more than you can eat - for just $7 a person.
The castle and harbor area in Carrickfergus were really stunning, both at night with the castle lit up and in the bright morning sun. We didn't get a chance to go inside and tour the castle but appreciated it from without and the view of it from our hotel window.