Grianán Áiligh (Grianan Fort), County Donegal

Grianán Áiligh (Grianan Fort), County Donegal

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Being one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland this ancient fort is ideal for learning about the rich history of Ireland.
 
The site of the Grianán of Áiligh has been known by many names over its long history: Aileach; Aileach Neid; Aileach Frigrinn, Aileach Imchell; Grianán Aileach and Aileach of the Kings. Roughly translated the name means “The Stony Palace of the Sunny View”
 
Located in County Donegal, near the town of Burt, it is easy accessible by the N13 Letterkenny- Derry road.
Set on the summit of Greenan Mountain (254 m/ 800 ft) Grianán Áiligh allows a stunning panoramic view over the land. Overlooking Inishowen to the north, Lough Swilly and Lough FoyleOne it is a perfect place to take in the breathtaking scenery. On a clear day five of the nine counties of Ulster can be seen from here, so take your time to enjoy the excellent view.
 
The massive stone walls of the fort are 4.5m (15 ft) thick, 5, (16ft) high and enclose an area of 23.4m (77ft) in diameter. The interior consists of three terraces; you can also find chambers in the walls and two narrow passages making it ideal for exploring.
 
The history of this place dates back to 1700 BC. Grianán Áiligh was built by the Tuatha Dé Danann, a tribe living in Ireland before the Celts. According to the myths it was build directly under the order of Dagda, the God-King of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Evidence shows that this place was used for settlement before 1700 BC and human activity dates back much further.
It is also one of only five Irish locations marked by Ptolemy, the Alexandrian geographer, in his map of the world in 2nd century AD, which shows how impressive and important this site really is.
From the 5th to the 12th centuries it was the domicile of the northern Ui Neill, High-Kings of Ireland who ruled over the kingdom of Áiligh. According to the annals St. Patrick himself went there in 450 to baptize Eoghan, the founder of the Clan. Written in the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick he also blessed the fortress and left a symbolic flagstone, signalling that many clerics and kings would derive from here. Unfortunately the flagstone can no longer be found, but there is a holy well near the south site named after St. Patrick. During that time it was used as the place for the inauguration ceremonies and festivals. The fortress was raided in 1101 by Murtagh O’Brian, who ordered each of his soldiers to take a stone with them, destroying this magnificent fort.
 
The impressive fort we see today is largely the result of the reconstruction work done by Dr. Walter Bernard, a historian from Derry, between 1874 and 1879. Recently it was restored again to allow visitors an even better experience when visiting this mighty stone fort.
 
Every year during the summer solstice in June you can also attend The Féile Grianán Áiligh Chieftains Feast. This marvellous event is an ancient-styled banquette within the beautiful settings of Grianán Áiligh Enjoy the food made by award winning chefs and be delighted by the authentic entertainment and music.

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