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Grianan Fort / Grianan of Aileach

This stone Celtic fort, known as Grianan of Aileach, is circular in shape and located atop an 810 foot high hill northeast of Letterkenny. The views from this site are breathtaking, and include the areas around Donegal Town and Kerry. The hills of peninsulas Fanad and Inishowen are visible, along with the River Swilly, Lough Swilly and surrounding landscapes.

  • The fort is encircled by a stone enclosure measuring 76 feet in diameter. Beyond its gates are additional fortifications made from earth and stone, with a strong structure at the center of the fort.
  • The age of Grianan Fort is difficult to determine, but most authorities place its origin in the Iron Age.
  • In the 2nd century A.D., the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy included Grianan Fort in his map of the world. The fort was one of a handful of Irish sites included on the map.
  • Grianan is known to have been connected to the O'Neill chieftains of Ulster from the fifth through the 12 centuries. It was viciously attacked in 674 and 1101.
  • Dr Walter Bernard, a historian from Derry, was instrumental in the restoration of the fortress during the 1870s.


Grianan Fort. Image by Steve Cadman

Path to Grianan Fort. Image by Dublin Molly


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