The circular stone inner rings of Dún Dúchathair, the Black Fort, on Inis Mor island in the Aran Islands in County Galway off the west coast of Ireland inspired this post. We explored the cliffs and sterile landscape around this ancient fort of unknown purpose. Experts aren’t sure whether Dún Dúchathair was ceremonial or defensive, but to us it was truly impressive. Backed by sheer cliffs to the North Sea on three sides, and a sharp, rocky approach on the fourth, an enemy would have to be incredibly determined to even attempt a siege of this position.
Most tourists to this rocky island of hardy Irish tend to visit Dún Aonghasa, the more popular (and more advertised) fort ruins on Inis Mor. As I had read ahead of our visit, the reward for the effort of the long, somewhat challenging walk to Dún Dúchathair over rocky terrain and through a landscape veined with more manmade rock pasture walls that we could count, is a decided lack of people exploring the site. This benefit held true, as there were only a handful of people there as we carefully climbed around the sharp and plentiful monotone rock. Sitting by the cliff’s edge and contemplating the fort in a silence that only comes with few people around, surrounded by the soft surf sounds, occassional sea bird call, and the gentle wind made the experience all the better.
The location is nothing short of stunning, but a bit daunting whenever we walked near the edge of the precipice surrounding this area. The final panorama picture below can be clicked for a larger version showing the expanse of the fort, taken with my back to the sheer drop to the cold sea below.