If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in Ireland, you should visit Dún Aonghasa, also known as Dún Aengus, one of the most impressive stone forts in Europe. Located on the island of Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the Aran Islands, Dún Aonghasa is perched on a 100-metre-high cliff overlooking the ocean. It is a remarkable example of ancient engineering and craftsmanship, as well as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the people who built it.

Dún Aonghasa is not a single structure, but a complex of concentric walls, chambers, stairways and platforms that enclose an area of about 6 hectares. The outermost wall is 4 metres thick and 6 metres high in some places, and it follows the natural contours of the cliff edge. Beyond the wall lies a formidable defence system of upright stones, called a chevaux-de-frise, that covers the entire perimeter of the fort from cliff to cliff. These stones are sharp and jagged, and would have made it very difficult for any attacker to approach the fort.

The origins and purpose of Dún Aonghasa are shrouded in mystery. Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site was occupied from around 1100 BC to AD 1000, and that it underwent several phases of construction and modification. The earliest evidence of human activity is a series of large upright stones that may have formed an enclosure or a ceremonial site. Around 500 BC, the first wall was built, followed by the second and third walls in later centuries. The chevaux-de-frise was probably added around the same time as the third wall, making Dún Aonghasa one of the most formidable fortifications of its time.

The name Dún Aonghasa means “Fort of Aonghas”, and it may refer to a mythical king or god of Irish legend. Some scholars have suggested that Dún Aonghasa was a royal residence or a religious centre for the Fir Bolg, an ancient people who inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Others have proposed that it was a place of refuge or a lookout post for the local population. Whatever its function, Dún Aonghasa must have been an awe-inspiring sight for anyone who approached it from land or sea.

Today, Dún Aonghasa is a popular tourist attraction and an important archaeological site. It is managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and has a visitor centre with a museum, a café and a gift shop. The visitor centre is about 1 km from the fort, and the walk to the site is over rough terrain and natural rock. Visitors are advised to wear sturdy shoes and to be careful near the cliff edge, as there is no fence or barrier to prevent falls. The views from the fort are spectacular, especially on clear days when you can see the other Aran Islands, Galway Bay and the Connemara mountains.

Dún Aonghasa is more than just a historical monument; it is a living link to Ireland’s ancient past and culture. It is a place where you can feel the power and beauty of nature, as well as the spirit and creativity of humanity. It is a place that will inspire you and challenge you, and that you will never forget.


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Dun Aonghasa




September 27, 2022

Very nice

Ernie Schaefer