Hidden Donegal: A Fort In The Middle Of A Lake That’s Like Something From Another World

A very uniquely located fort in Donegal

doo fort in donegal
Photos by Lukassek/shutterstock

If you read our guide to the best things to do in Donegal, you’ll know that there’s (literally!) no end to what you can see and do in this corner of Ireland.

From the towering cliffs at Slieve League to the slightly off-the-beaten-track wild island of Arranmore, there’s something to tickle every fancy in Donegal.

There’s also a tonne of history, folklore and often other-worldly sites and places of immense natural beauty to be found.

That’s where the delightfully unique Doon Fort – a Western Stone Fort with a heap of lush green grass at the centre of a lake – comes in.

Welcome to the mighty Doon Fort

Doon Fort in Donegal is arguably the most unique fort on the island of Ireland. That’s saying a lot, considering the hefty competition from the likes of Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór

You’ll find Doon Fort finely plonked on an island in the centre of Loughadoon, not far from the little coastal villages of Narin and Portnoo (the beach here is one of the best in the land!).

Bash the play button on the video above – it’ll give you a sense of the size of Doon Fort before we dive into its history.

The history of Doon fort

doon fort donegal
Photo by Lukassek/shutterstock

Although many only publications debate the date of when Doon Fort was constructed, the exact date remains unknown. It’s widely accepted, however, that it dates back as far as the late Iron Age.

Doon Fort is a large Western Stone Fort… now, if you, like me, listened very little during history class in school, you’re probably scratching your head at this point.

A Western Stone Fort (cheers to UNESCO for the definition) is a fort with ‘exceptionally thick, and high enclosing walls’. Forts like Doon were used as royal residences and were seen as status symbols.

The fort has been linked with a number of families: the Breslin’s and the O’Boyle’s. It’s said that the Breslin’s occupied the fort from the 5th century, while the O’Boyle clan took it over until it fell into disrepair. 

How to get to Doon Fort

Doon fort aerial
Photo by Lukassek/shutterstock

This is where things get a little vague. The fort is situated on private land and several websites say that, during the summer months, the family that owns the land rent out small boats for people to visit the fort.

I’ve read in a couple of places that the boats are rented from nearby McHugh Farm. However, a search on Google brings up nothing location wise. If you fancy visiting Doon Fort, your best bet is to ask around locally, if you visit during the summer.

Nip over to nearby Portnoo village and drop into one of the shops. The chances are that someone there will be able to point you in the right direction.

Other unique places to visit in Ireland

best places to visit in Ireland
Photos by Gareth Wray and Brian Fox

Ireland’s home to heaps of places of immense natural beauty that rarely (if ever) grace the covers of tourist guides and handbooks.

In our guide to hidden Ireland, you’ll find caves, valleys, mountains and much much more that you (hopefully) never knew existed.

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!