I wanted to get to a particular chemist shop, one of many businesses in Buncrana that offered discounts and goody bags for delegates to the AMAI conference hubby was attending. Needless to say I absconded with the vouchers booklet and made some contribution to the local economy, no doubt raising the GDP of Buncrana in the process. I got a lovely goody bag full of toiletries and a nice bottle of my fave perfume -Red Door by Elizabeth Arden. For this I had to spend €20 in the shop, not a bad deal as you can never have too much toothpaste and shampoo - both of which I'd left home without packing. I also mooched around a lovely gift and homewares shop where I set my sights on this lovely teapot, which enhances my growing collection - I now have four purely on aesthetic grounds - that they are receptacles for my fave beverage is coincidental! Don't you just love the sentiments? After my own heart indeed, and it came with a 20% discount too! I also got some bargain-basement wool in a lovely shop, and I am busy making socks with some of it - one down and one to go.
But I digress - this was supposed to be about the cultural history of ancient Donegal - I drove up to the Ring Fort which was visible for miles around as a bump atop of one of the hills south of Buncrana - and the winding boreen led to a magical place - with the most spectacular view in a 360 degree panorama I've yet seen in Ireland. There are other wonderful vistas like The Vee nearer home just over the Waterford border in Co. Tipperary, but they aren't full circle views.
Looking north you see Inishowen and the inlets of Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle; looking east there's Derry and beyond, and looking west there's Letterkenny. South is...well, the rest of Ireland I suppose! In all you can see seven counties from the hill ford and here are some of the photos so you can see for yourself.
The Ring Fort is massive, over 3000 years old and featured in Ptolemy of Alexandria's 2nd Century Map of Ireland. This snippet is lifted from some of the tourist information I picked up in the delegates pack. It sits atop Grianan Hill at an elevation of 244 metres above sea level. It's an Iron Age fort, and underwent many changes over the next two centuries, until its destruction according to the Irish Annals in 1101. It was rebuilt to its present state in the late 19th century and much of the stone used was from the 1101 destruction. I'm sure it's an archaeologist's dream and Time Team would have a wonderful three days excavating the place to look for more clues about its origins and functions.
I just enjoyed the solitary beauty of the place, scrambling over the walls and trying to ignore any hint of vertigo as I scaled the narrow steps to the ramparts on the inside walls, walking the perimeter and taking photos from every side/angle. (Irish joke aside - how do you confuse a Kerryman? Put him in a Round Tower and tell him to stand in the corner! Caveat - Irish jokes told in Ireland use the Kerryman as scapegoat instead of the Irishman - a universal practice I'm sure!)
I hope you enjoy the photos and reading about this hidden gem in Donegal - I certainly enjoyed exploring another lovely spot in Ireland - a great country for a holiday or a staycation once you get decent weather as we were lucky to get on this break for the border.
Photos from the top:
- My Chocolate Teapot (Born to Shop brand)
- My Goody Bag Giveaway Contents (they came in a Christmas Bag!)
- Grianan of Aileach - Various Views
- Looking north to Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle
- Looking east to Derry and Northern Ireland
- The Ramparts of the inner Ring Fort
- The Gate of the Fort