Emerald Isle

Dun Aengus

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Legendary Places in Ireland

The breathtaking fortress of Dun Aengus, perched on the edge of a steep cliff

Dun Aengus means "the Fort of Aenghus", and remains one of the most impressive ancient monuments in Ireland, Europe or the world. Perched on the edge of a high and jagged cliff with the grey-green waters of the Atlantic battering below, it gained its name from its original builders, who were called the Fir Bolg, some of the first to arrive in Ireland and who strove mightily with the Tuatha de Dannan at Moy Tura.

"The Fir Bolg gave them battle upon Mag Tuired; they were a long time fighting that battle. At last it broke against the Fir Bolg, and the slaughter pressed northward, and a hundred thousand of them were slain…The Fir Bolg fell in that battle all but a few, and they went out of Ireland in flight from the Tuatha Dé Dannan…

Thereafter they came in flight before Cairbre under the protection of Meldb and Ailill, and these gave them lands. This is the wandering of the sons of Umor. Oengus son of Umor was king over them in the east, and from them are named those territories, Loch CIme from Cime Four-Heads son of Umor, the Point of Taman in Medraige from Taman son of Umor, the Fort of Oengus in Ara from Oengus, the Stone-heap of Conall in Aidne from Conall, Mag Adair from Adar, Mag Asail from Asal in Mumu also. Menn son of Umor was the poet. They were in fortresses and in islands of the sea around Ireland in that wise, till Cu Chulaind overwhelmed them."

After the Fir Bolg it was reputed to have become the last refuge of the feared Fomorian sea demons as well.

It lies within four great stone walls, open on one side to the ocean, and among its most striking features is the circle of jagged stones that surrounds it. These were meant to make approach to the fort difficult, and they'd have done a fine job of it too, for even now the edges of the stones are sharp and you could do yourself a severe injury by falling atop one.

In the heart of the fourteen acre enclosure is a giant stone slab, although to what purpose it was put in the olden days none can say. The fort could see a great distance out to either side as well, and so perhaps acted as a watchtower for invaders, traders or raiders. Its age is unknown but very great, and its history is less known again, but if you're visiting you'd be best to do so during the evenings, when there are fewer visitors.

Dun Aengus still stands where it's marked on the map below.

Legendary Places in Ireland

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