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.