FORT DUNREE, Dunduff, Inishowen Dún Fhraoigh meaning "Fort of Heather” or An Dún Riabhach meaning “Grey Fort”
From the information board: "Fort Dunree, Dun Fhraoigh in Irish means, “Fort of the Heather” and indicates that this site has been an important defensive site down through history. Today however, its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife are drawing increasing numbers of visitors to one of Inishowen’s most beautiful and peaceful locations. Fort Dunree was first opened to the public in 1986 and has attracted tourists from all over the world ever since. It is a must see for every visitor to the Inishowen peninsula. Fort Dunree provides the following facilities: Scenic Walks ~ The Guns of Dunree Exhibition ~ The Wildlife Discovery Room ~ The Rockhill Collection ~ Shop ~ Cafe ~ Auditorium ~ Exhibition/Conference Space."
Gun poining across the Swilly
From Buildings of Ireland:
"This impressive Napoleonic-era coastal fortification is an important element of the built heritage and history of County Donegal.
Despite some modifications over the years, and recent works to create a museum, it retains much of its stark and imposing earlier character and form, and much of its salient fabric.
The present fort replaced an earlier temporary earthen battery at this site, which was one of a number established by the British after 1798 and the continuing threat of French invasion (there was an attempted landing in Lough Swilly by the French in 1798 with a force of some 8,000 men, which was repelled at sea). Lough Swilly was also an important Royal Navy anchorage at this time.
Two 42-pounder guns captured from the French ship Hoche, five British 18-pounders and two British 9-pounders were deployed here c. 1801, probably at a circular or semi-circular bastion to the north of the site (depicted in painting of 1802).
A series of single and two-storey buildings were located in the centre of the fort at this time (see above; painting). Gother Man made proposals for updated Irish coastal defences in 1806 – this included rebuilding\building six batteries\towers along Lough Swilly, and some £10,000 was estimated for the works at Fort Dunree. £4,500 was estimated for the ‘re-forming of Dunree’ by the Ordnance Office in 1809. Works took place in 1812 -13, and a Henry Haswell was appointed the master gunner at Dunree in 1813. A Mr Edgar of Buncrana was the main contractor, and a Captain Spicer was the works supervisor.
Nine 24-pounders were in place at Fort Dunree in 1817. Two of the 24-pounders at Dunree were replaced in 1847 by two 5.5 inch howitzers. The gunners left the Napoleonic fort at Dunree in 1886. In 1889 the Defence Committee issued a report recommending that two 4.7-inch quick firing guns should be established in the old fort at Dunree with two 6-inch breech-loading guns placed on top of Dunree Hill to the east along with two three-pounder quick firing guns to guard against attempted landings at Crummie’s Bay to the north beneath Dunree Hill.
The original Martello-type tower to the centre of the old fort was demolished c. 1900 as it obstructed the field of fire from the new fort on the summit of Dunree Hill to the east (see 40901826). As Lough Swilly was one of the Treaty ports, the fort remained under British military control until 1938. It was in use by the Irish Army during the Second World War when a number of anti aircraft guns were added to site. This complex forms part of a site that together constitute one of a number of coastal batteries built by the British military around Lough Swilly along with Inch Fort and Neid’s Point to the south, Lenan Head to the north, and Muckamish, Rathmullan and Knockalla to the far side of the Lough.
Of historic importance to the Irish nation, shedding light on the strategic value of Lough Swilly especially to the British during World War One, and played an integral role in safeguarding Ireland’s neutrality during World War Two. Furthermore, the site provides insight into the defensive thinking of military planners and the skills of military engineers.”
Fort Dunree zoomed in from across the Swilly at Fanad
FORT DUNREE WAS THE LAST PLACE IN THE 26 COUNTIES TO LOWER THE BRITISH FLAG
“The fort is located on a rocky promontory accessed over a natural fissure. Originally built as part of a series of fortifications defending Lough Swilly during the Napoleonic Wars, located opposite Knockalla Fort on the other side of the lough.
The fort was neglected after the peace of 1815. In 1874 it was armed with seven 24 Pounder guns. It was remodelled in 1895 to have 2 x 4.7 inch (120 mm) QF guns below, and later 12-pounder (5 kg) QF and 2 x 6 inch (152 mm) guns in an upper land battery. The top of a hill overlooking the site was walled in to form a redoubt. Both 6-inch guns were operational during the First World War.
On 6 December 1921, the Anglo Irish Treaty was concluded. It provided for the establishment of the Irish Free State which happened on 6 December 1922. The Treaty included provisions by which the British would retain sovereignty over three strategically important ports known as the Treaty ports, one of which being described in the Treaty as: Lough Swilly Harbour defences to remain in charge of British care and maintenance parties.
Accordingly, even after the establishment of the Irish Free State, the Royal Navy continued to maintain its presence at Fort Dunree. Fort Dunree remained under British sovereignty until 3 October 1938 when, pursuant to the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement of 25 April 1938, the territory was ceded to Ireland. On 4 October 1938, The Times reported on the handover of Lough Swilly at Fort Dunree on 3 October 1938 as follows:
FORTS HANDED OVER TO EIRE - Britain's last forts in Eire, those on the gale-swept Lough Swilly at Dunree and Leenan, were surrendered to the Eire Defence Forces yesterday. The ceremony at Dunree was witnessed by only a dozen spectators. The Union Jack, was hauled down by two Royal Artillery N.C.O.s and the Eire green, white, and orange flag was run up by two N.C.O.s of the Coastal Artillery Defence Force. The ceremony was brought forward from October 26, the date originally fixed under the Anglo-Irish Pact, on account of the international situation. When the British troops left last evening en route for Shoeburyness, their new headquarters, they were given a cordial send off. By a coincidence Sergeant O'Flynn, of the Royal Artillery, who hauled down the Union Jack, and Sergeant McLaughlin, of the Eire force, who hoisted the tricolour, are brothers-in-law.
Two brothers in-law, one hauling down a Union Jack and the other hauling up an Irish tricolour was indeed a poignant end to the long history of British military presence in the territory of the Irish state. It was also the last time sovereignty over any territory was ceded to Ireland.
The guns at the Fort were manned by the Irish Army until decommissioned following the Second World War. Fort Dunree was used by the Irish Army for training until 1990.
The fort is now a military museum with detailed exhibitions, many restored guns such as BL 6 inch Mk VII naval gun and an old military camp. There are also displays about the area birds, marine life and coastal vegetation.
Other facilities include a gift shop, auditorium, café and trail walks."
The irish flag flies at Fort Dunree
DUNREE SANDY STRAND
An old song about Dunree's Sandy Strand and leaving it (from Duchas.ie)
1 Come all you boys and girls and listen to my song. The reason why I sing of it because I do think long, I'm thinking of a dear spot so far across the sea, I'm thinking of the happy days, I spent in old Dunree. 2 To Dunree I paid a visit and that you all know well, Its of its hospitality that I am going to tell, I chanced to meet an old man and thus to me did say A baid maile a faltua and you are welcome to Dunree Bay. 3 So then I met a younger one, he says, "Come have a walk." We strolled around the sandy strand. And stood at Strickon point. I gazed around amazed was I at the scenery so grand. And the happiest night that ever I spent was on Dunree sandy strand. 4 The lad he said come let us go before that it gets dark, And we will go up to Milton bridge and be in time for crack. For crack I have been ignorant the likes I never have seen, So I took delight that moonlight night on Dunree sandy strand. 5 When we got up to Milton Bridge all the girls they were there, I must admit they were beautiful they were beyond compare, Some of them had sweethearts while the most of them had none. And some of them were like myself they were only there for fun 6 So farewell to Dunree as I am going away, I am so very sorry I can no longer stay, So farewell that football team likewise you one and all. I'm bound for Boston City far far away from Donegal.
Photo Gallery of Fort Dunree
Click on any of the photographs below to enlarge:
email: WeLoveDonegal@gmail.com or via our CONTACT form