Few places in Donegal are as impressive from the air as Doon Fort.
And, while there’s a lot of uncertainty around getting to it, it’s a lovely little slice of ‘hidden Ireland’.
Below, you’ll find info on its history, getting to it and what to see and do nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows about Doon Fort in Donegal
So, visiting Doon Fort in Donegal isn’t as straightforward. It’s worth taking 30 seconds to read the points below before you visit:
2. The road leading to it
A lot of people see the sign for Doon Fort next to this road and head down it, thinking that they’ll be able to see the fort. This isn’t the case and it’s a very narrow road that can be tricky for some drivers to navigate.
3. Private land
Interestingly enough, the land that Doon Fort sits on is privately owned. So, if you’re thinking about kayaking over to it and landing on the ‘island’, keep in mind that you’ll need permission (our only advice here is to ask locally, which isn’t of much help, we know!).
4. Boat rental
Up until a few years ago, we had often heard from people that had rented little boats from the person/family that owns the land here. Unfortunately, despite much effort, we can’t find any info about this anywhere.
About the mighty Doon Fort
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.
Doon Fort boat rental
As mentioned previously, 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 the 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. Hopefully someone there will be able to point you in the right direction.
Places to visit near Doon Fort
One of the beauties of this place is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the fort!
1. Glengesh Pass (20-minute drive)
The bendy road at Glengesh Pass is arguably one of the most unique roads to spin along in Donegal. The views here are fantastic and the road is a joy to mosey along.
2. Assaranca Waterfall (25-minute drive)
Another solid option is nearby Assaranca Waterfall. You’ll find it right next to the road (literally) where it looks like something whipped from a Jurassic Park movie.
3. Maghera Beach and Caves (30-minute drive)
Another great place to visit near Doon Fort is Maghera Caves and Beach. This is a beautiful beach that has a wild rugged feeling that’s well worth sauntering along.
FAQs about Doon Fort
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘How do you get to it?’ to ‘Is it really privately owned?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Can you rent boats at Doon Fort?
In years past, yes – however, it’s no longer clear if this service is still running. Keep in mind that the fort sits on private land.
Where is the view of Doon Fort?
The photos that you see online show the fort as viewed from the sky – there’s no viewpoint that gives you this view of the area.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.