Inside Carnfunnock Country Park is an old ice house that was constructed during the mid-1800s. It was designed to provide ice for the former estate grounds known locally as Cairncastle Lodge.
The ice house was constructed into the side of a hill and would then be covered in dirt to keep the facility cool and away from direct sunlight. The chamber reaches depths of 65-feet (20-meters) where the ice blocks were stored. There was also a drain at the bottom that helped remove any meltwater from the chamber. During that period, the external door to the chamber was a pair of heavy solid double doors that prevented any warm air from circulating and melting the ice.
Ice from the ice house was used throughout the year to keep food fresh such as fish, meat, and poultry. The ice was also used to cool drinks for residents of Cairncastle Lodge.
Ice was collected from ponds and streams during the winter. The blocks were then lowered to the bottom of the chamber. Servants were also lowered into the chamber by a rope or ladder, where they were instructed to break the ice to form a giant ice mass.
The ice would then be covered with insulating materials like dirt and straw, which ensured it would last into the summer. Servants were responsible for looking after the ice mass and transporting any ice from the chamber to Cairncastle Lodge. They also stored meats in the chamber to preserve them for later months.
Know Before You Go
Carnfunnock Country Park is located on Coast Road just outside Larne Town near the coastal village of Ballygally. There is parking available on-site for a small fee, or you can park down at the Drains Bay free car park and walk up from there. The ice house is located along the Top Path near the Carnfunnock Viewpoint, follow the signposts to the location.