daniel diver urris

Dunaff Hill

Dunaff Hill is also a headland and has impressive views of Urris. From the summit you can see across to Malin Head, Ireland’s most northernly point and across Lough Swilly you can see Fanad Head and it’s famous lighthouse.

Dunaff Hill Cairn

Location: Dunaff, Clonmany , Co. Donegal, Ireland

GPS Co-ordinates: 55.285470, -7.513630

Ringfort: 55.276370, -7.5097960

Neolithic Campsite: 55.271127, -7.5081280

Length & Difficulty: Dunaff Hill is a relatively easy hike as the hills summit is a mere 230m. Allow 2 – 3 hours.

Safety & Gear: Like any hike you should let someone know in advance you are going and your estimated return time. Fully charged mobile phone. Hiking boots, preferably waterproof the terrain is mostly heather clad and bog track. Drinking water is essential and a light lunch or snack if desired.

Ringfort: The remnants of a bronze age ringfort can be found at the South East base of the hill. All that is visible from above is a low ditch that has been intersected by the walls of the surrounding fields. It may be from this fort that the townland of Dunaff originates. The townland of Dunaff translates to fort of the oxen. Dún meaning fort and Damh oxen.

Neolithic Campsite: Ireland’s oldest Neolithic campsite is located in Dunaff Bay. It is located between the cliffs of Dunaff Head and Lenan Head. The site contained many early Irish Mesolithic artifacts, including unabraded flints comprising a few leaf-shaped flakes, blade-like flakes and a large amount of related Neolithic waste material. The location is regarded as an “industrial site” producing material associated with the so-called Early Larnian tradition. There is no evidence of a permanent settlement at the site.

Theobald Wolfe Tone: Leader of the 1798 Irish rebellion was captured by the royal navy off Dunaff head on November 1798.

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Dunaff Hill

The hill has a summit of 230m and some of the most breath taking views in Urris. Dunaff hill is also a headland with impressive sea cliffs on the other side. Like most hill tops in Inishowen there are an abundance of cairns and Dunaff hill is no exception. From the cairns on top of the hill you can see Malin Head, Ireland’s most northernly point. Across the Swilly you can see Fanad head and the famous lighthouse situated there.

Lenan Fort

The Victorian style fort located in Lenan, Urris, in the Inishowen Pennsiula, county Donegal was built in 1895. It was part of seven British built coastal artillery defensive forts built to protect Lough Swilly. The site, no longer in use consisted of barrack accommodation, water tower, guard house, three semi-circular concrete gun emplacements with concrete sloping embankments and underground ammunitions stores.

Lenan Fort gun embankment

Lenan fort 1938

October 3rd, 1938, saw the last British garrison lower the British flag and the tricolour raised. A simple ceremony was held. Five soldiers from each side faced each other and rendered a salute to the sound of a single bugler. Sgt King lowered the British flag, and his brother-in-law Sgt McLaughlin raised the Irish flag.

lenan fort guns

Lenan Head Fort was recomended in 1891 for the defence of Lough Swilly to be armed with 1 x 9.2inch BL gun, two 9 or 10inch RML guns and 2 x 6pdr QF guns. In 1901 it was armed with 2 x 9.2-inch BL Mk I and 1 x 9.2-in BL Mk IV gun. Between 1909 and 1911 the guns were changed to 2 x Mark X. They were removed for scrap in the 1950s.

Pictured is an example of the guns that one stood in these emplacements located in Lenan forts sister fort Dunree.

The fort closed in 1946 only eight years after being handed over to the Irish state. Fort Lenan is now in a dilapidated state. Many of the buildings have fallen to ruin. Of tin barracks only a forest of chimney stacks remains to remind us of their presence. Harsh weathering has corroded the sturdy brick building removing roofs and rusting metal.

The site an area of outstanding natural beauty overlooked by the Urris hills on one side and backdropped with an expansive view of Lough Swilly and Fanad lighthouse. Lenan heads sheer cliffs are battered with ferocious waves even on the calmest of days. In summer months these cliff edges are dotted with pink lavender hued sea thrift and occupied by grazing sheep.

If visiting the site do so with caution. Uncovered manholes and holes are numerous around the site and some are hard to see through the grass and rubble. Cliff edges are sheer and have no railing making the site unsuitable for children.