This fort is located in the central west part of the island, and it’s not like the other forts build next to the see. It’s a stone wall fort that dates back to the first century B.C. It also consists of three rings of stone walls. But the outer two are very low, they can easily be mistaken with the stone walls that divide the meadows of the island.
The central construction is on his highest point 5 meter high and at the entrance (lowest point) 3 meter high. The wall is 3 meter thick and consist of 2 layers and it contains some stairs where you can get on the walls.
This double walled fort is build close to the highest point of Inis Mór. This means that you have a clear view over the entire island from here. There are other settlements close by like cahels, stone enclosures and houses. It’s not certain when Dún Eochla was built, because there wasn’t an excavation done. But they place it in the cashel class and that dates the construction between the 6 and 8 century. But it can be possible that the current fort replaced an older one.
Today there is no evidence found of any houses in the interior, there is only a round structure build out of stones. They believe it’s linked with the lighthouse and fulfilled a signalling function.
Dun Aonghasa is an Iron or Bronze age promontory fort with 3 stone walls and a "chevaux-de-frise" consisting of tall blocks of limestone set vertically into the ground.
We walked narrow rocky road up the hill for about a half mile from the visitor center to the fort. (You have to leave bicycle or car at the visitor center.) It was sunny when we were there, but it rained very hard in the morning, and the ground was really slippery. Bring comfortable walking shoes. I had hiking boots on.
Once you reach to the fort, you'll see a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean from the cliff. There is no fence stopping you from falling off the cliffs, so be careful.
We hired bikes for a day. It was such a windy day (possibly it's as windy there always, though I doubt it) and there were some rain showers but still it was a lovely sunny day. We stayed in the biggest of the Aran Islands, Inis Mor. It's a very bare island with no trees at all. It's mainly rock and stone but it has its own beauty and we both loved it there very much. It was all uphill against the wind, but not too hard, though we walked many hills. We saw lots of stone fences. We cannot understand how people have managed to build them without using anything to keep them up. Pretty flowers in bloom everywhere and no sign of people; tourists or locals - reall luxury!
This 5th Century beehive but was the home of one of the monks who occupied Inis Mor during that time. The unique thing is that this free stone structure remains intact. It lies at the base of a hill - we left our bikes at the top.
At times on Inis Mor, you feel as though each site exists in some local's backyard - Clochan na Carraige is no different. The drive to reach it is just next to a house.
I am very interested in anything Celtic so when I saw a grave yard with Celtic crosses I just had to stop. I was taking photos of them, when a young woman came to us and asked if we were from Finland. She was a Finnish girl, who lives in London and she told us that just some days earlier she had been very homesick, so she was happy to meet somebody from home. We chatted for a little while with her until heading forward.
We tried to find a nice sheltered place to have our sandwiches, but there wasn't any, so we finally had them by the sea. It was such a beautiful place, too. The water was turquoise, almost green and the sand was almost white. I could have swum there if I had had my swimming suit with me.
One of the main draws for visitors to Inis Mór is the spectacularly situated Dún Aonghasa prehistoric fort located on the southern coast of the island. The precise date of its construction is disputed with some claiming that the fort was constructed during the Bronze Age giving a probable construction date of between 2000BC and 1000BC. Some claim its construction later than this during the Iron Age. Whatever the truth, the semi-circular fort is certainly one of the oldest and most important prehistoric pieces of architecture in Europe.
The semi-circular fort is protected by a series of four concentric stone walls which encircle an inner courtyard with the southern side entirely open to the elements with a spectacular 300ft high sheer cliff face which drops to the pounding waves of the Atlantic far below. This dramatic location adds to the appeal of a visit to this ancient site.
The site is far too old to have any Christian significance and was more likely to be a defensive fortification or indeed a pagan worship site. Evidence points to both functions with a huge stone ‘altar’ located inside the inner walls and a strong outer defensive cheveaux de frise ,a ring of sharp jagged stones, set at all angles, which encircles the entire fort and provided an impregnable defence against would be invaders.
The site is one of ireland’s proudest heritage sites and there is an education centre located at the foot of the hill on which Dún Aonghasa sits.
Be warned the walk from the centre is rough and uneven and is not suitable for people with disabilities. Also be aware that the ring fort is a fragile piece of historic architecture and climbing on the walls of the fort itself is absolutely forbidden as is the removal or disturbance of any of the masonry. Another note of warning – the southern side of the fort opens dramatically out to see and there are no guard rails along the 300ft drop. If you don’t have a head for heights don’t go too close to the edge (Many visitors have been blown over the edge of the fort and killed below) This couldn’t stop me having a peek over the edge of the cliff, but I did have to go down on my stomach to do so!!!!
There is something special about the Black Fort or Dún Dúchathair. Perched spectacularly on a rocky cliff high above the Atlantic, the impressive ruins of this dry-stone ring fort are more secluded and isolated than the other prehistoric forts on the island. I visited early in the morning and had the place to myself. Getting to the fort involves a walk across rugged karst limestone landscape and this puts off many visitors from visiting the fort. However, they really are missing out. Not only is the fort itself well worth a look but the natural scenery and coastal landscape is breathtaking. The open cliff faces drop dramatically away from the barren land and offer great views up and down the coast. The only other person I came across when walking along the cliffs was a local fisherman who was fishing from the high cliffs and was eager to chat, like most of the local islanders I met during my stay on the island.
Inside the walls of the fort are the remains of several stone huts and inner fort buildings. Like Dún Aonghasa Dún Dúchathair is protected by an intimidating chevaux de fries defensive wall of sharp angled stones.
Na Seacht dTeampaill or Seven Churches is the collective name given to a complex of churches and monastic sites located along the north-western side of the island. The complex consists of the remains of two churches, tombs, graveyard, monastic houses and other early Christian architecture.
The buildings in the complex were built up over several centuries between the 8th and 15th centuries. The entire complex is dedicated to St. Brecan and the largest church is named after the saint himself. The other church is called Teampall an Phoill. To the north of the church are remains of 15th century monastic houses and also around the church are several penitential stations, Leaba an Spiorad Naomh (Holy Spirit Bed) and Leaba Breacáin (St. Breacan’s Bed). There are also several examples of fine Celtic Crosses around the complex.
The most important building in the Seven Churches complex is Teampall Bhreacáin. The original church building dates from the 8th century but was later expanded to the south and an arch added in the eastern wall. A chancel was added in the 19th century but the original lines can still be clearly seen in the west gable.
Around the church and other monastic buildings is an interesting graveyard containing the tombs and graves of many important religious figures from the islands past. Some of the graves and slab tombs date back to the 9th century. Most of the older graves are located in the south-east corner of the grave. Many of the slabs have ancient celtic cravings and detailing. Several fine Celtic high crosses exhibit intricate Celtic interlacing and design.
The main village on the island of Inis Mór is Kilronan or Cill Ronáin in Irish. The village takes its name from the Monastery of St. Ronan, of which nothing exists apart from the monastery well. Kilronan is the first place visitors to the island will see and although it has changed considerably in recent years and has a severe touristic and commercial function, it still serves as the centre of local island life. Most of the islands shops, pubs, B&Bs, hostels, restaurants and other services such as bike rental, post office and banks are located in Kilronan. Kilronan is also the main fishing and ferry port on the island and the harbour is always busy with the coming and going of ferries to the mainland and other two Aran Islands. There is not many sites of interest in Kilronan apart from the Aran Sweater Market (if you must) Far more interesting is the Aran Heritage Centre just outside the village on the road towards Kilmurvy. The islands tourist office is also located in Kilronan, close to the pier.
Teampall Chiaráin is also known as Mainistir Chiaráin or Mainistir Chonnacht (Ciarán’s Maonastery or Connaught Monastery) and is located north west of Kilronan, just off the Kilmurvy road.
The church/monastery was built for St. Ciarán sometime during the 12th century and its ruins can be visited easily. The most striking part of the roofless remains are the doorways and narrow windows. The church is built in what is known as the transitional style. There is an ancient sundial and holy well located on the church grounds as are several stones carved with 12th century cross carvings. Close to the church is a prehistoric chamber tomb.
This Bronze Age fort is one of Ireland’s finest examples of prehistoric stone architecture. Located close to the Signal Tower on the highest point of the island climb/cycle to the summit of the hill and to the stone fort is rewared with sweeping views of the island and over towards the Galway Mountains and Twelve Bens Range on the mainland.
The fort itself consists of two concentric stone circles. The inner circle is terraced and has steps leading up onto the ‘ramparts’. Inside the fort arethe remains of two clocháns (corbel-roofed stone huts used by monks).