Dún Aonghasa

Dun Aonghasa

Step back in time at this Celtic hill fort and explore the Aran island of Inis Mór

A prehistoric hill fort, perched precariously on a 100m cliff over the harsh Atlantic Ocean... one of Ireland’s most ancient features, estimated to be more than 3000 years old... Standing in Dún Aonghasa (the fort of Aonghas, in Irish), is a little like teetering on the edge of the world. And as the strong sea winds blow around you and the waves crash below, you’ll feel at one with the heartbeat of Celtic Ireland.

the most magnificent barbaric monument extant in Europe

George Petrie, 19th century Irish archeologist

Like any good fortress, Dún Aonghasa keeps its secrets. No one knows who Aonghas was – maybe a displaced noble from east of the River Shannon, or a 5th century king of Cashel in County Tipperary. And the purpose of the rock platform that sits dramatically at the cliff edge remains a mystery. But that just adds to the appeal of this magical place. As you wander the ruins, it's best to let your imagination soar...

Inis Mór

Dún Aonghasa is located on Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the three Aran Islands – the name actually means ‘big island’ in the Irish language. The island's main hub is the village of Kilronan, where ferries from Clare and Galway arrive several times a day.

While Dún Aonghasa is its best-known attraction, Inis Mór has more than 50 different monuments from Christian, pre-Christian and Celtic eras. Stretching out terrifyingly over the sea is Dún Dúchatair, also known as the Black Fort. Erosion from the wild ocean has left the fort on a thin platform over the water so peek over the edge at your own risk!

And don’t miss Teaghlach Einne, the house of St Enda, a little church half-buried in sand at Killeany graveyard. The graveyard is at least 1500 years old, and still serves as the main burial ground for the island. St Enda himself, the patron saint of Inis Mór, is believed to be buried there.

Seaside adventures

Inis Mór is full of spectacular beaches. Kilmurvey beach lies in a sheltered cove, and has the calmest waters in the island. Stroll along the soft white sand or take a dip in the sea. If you’re feeling adventurous, visit Poll na bPeist, also called The Wormhole - a spectacular naturally formed rectangular pool in the cliffs into which the sea flows in and out. Scary as it looks, it’s a popular cliff diving spot for thrill-seeking visitors.

Where to stay

The island has overnight options for every budget and comfort level. The Aran Islands Hotel in Kilronan village is a perfect place to relax after a long day. For something a little cosier, Inis Mór is dotted with traditional B&Bs. Or you could try Kilmurvey House, a stately 18th century guesthouse with lashings of vintage charm and an idyllic beachside location.

Get a taste of island life

Touring the Aran Islands is hungry work, so make sure you fuel up! Teach Nan Phaidi near Kilmurvey beach is a charming traditional thatched cottage that serves up delicious local food. Warm scones, hearty Guinness stew and freshly caught fish will set you up for the day and see you coming back for more.

If you just need a quick bite, RUA Caifé in Kilronan is the good spot. Try their ultimate Irish sausage rolls – sausage, black pudding and white pudding wrapped in buttery, flaky pastry. And for good food and great music, head to Joe Watty’s Bar. The atmosphere is friendly so you can get to know your fellow travellers and the locals over a drink.

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Getting here

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