Dún Aonghasa: A Cliff-Side Fort In Galway That Looks Like Something From Another World

Dún Aonghasa cliffs
Photo left: LUKinMEDIA (shutterstock). Right: Chris Hill

The chances are that you’ll have come across pictures of Dún Aonghasa fort at one point or another.

The cliff-side fort on Inis Mór in Galway is one of the most iconic places in Ireland, and it tends to grace the cover of many a postcard and travel guide.

It’s not hard to see why, either – the ancient fort of Dún Aonghasa is perched at the edge of a 300-foot high cliff.

In the guide below, you’ll find out everything you need to know about Dún Aonghasa, from its history and location to how to reach it and more.

Some quick need-to-knows about visiting Dún Aonghasa

Dún Aonghasa Galway
Photo by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

Although a visit to Dún Aonghasa is a little less straightforward than many of the more popular Galway attractions, is fairly handy to get to, once you plan ahead.

Below, you’ll find some quick need-to-knows, the most important of which is the location and how to reach it.

1. Location

You’ll find Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mor Isalnd off the coast of Galway and it’s location is dramatic to say the least! Yep, that’s the fort in the photo above – perched on the side of a 300-foot high cliff.

2. Getting to the fort

The island is reached by ferry from Doolin or Rossaveal or via plane. Once you land on the island, you can either walk to the fort or rent a bike and cycle to it.

3. A snappy history

It’s believed that Dún Aonghasa was built at some point during the 2nd century. Excavations revealed that people lived at/near the fort from c.1500 BC and it’s believed that it was erected c.1100 BC.

The history of Dún Aonghasa

You’ll find Dún Aonghasa (anglicized Dun Aengus) on Inis Mór, the largest of the mighty Aran Islands, at the mouth of Galway Bay.

Dún Aonghasa is one of a number of prehistoric hill forts that are scattered across the three Aran Islands.

However, it stands out from the crowd thanks to its dramatic location. Yep, that’s the fort in the photo above – perched on the side of a 300-foot high cliff.

When it was built

Although Dún Aonghasa’s date of construction is unknown, it’s widely believed that much of the structure was built between the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

According to Wikipedia, it’s believed that the fort was constructed during the 2nd century BC by the Builg – ancient people who are believed to have resided in southern Ireland.

Evidence of life at the fort

Excavations carried out at Dún Aonghasa in the ’90s revealed that people lived at/near the fort from c.1500 BC.

It’s believed that the first walls and dwellings were erected c.1100 BC. Imagine sleeping here for a night, never mind a lifetime.

It once sat 3,000+ feet above the sea

The fort is made up of four dry stone walls and a gorgeous network of defensive stones that date back to c.700bc surround the entire structure (see photo above).

When Dún Aonghasa was originally built, sea levels were much lower, and it’s thought that the fort could have sat 3,000+ feet above the chilly waters below.

How to get to Dún Aonghasa

dun aonghasa inis mor
Photo by Timaldo/shutterstock.com

You can get to Inis Mór by ferry or by plane. There’s a departure point for the Aran Islands from Doolin in Clare. There’s another from Rossaveel in Galway.

If you’d rather dodge the sea and travel by air, you can grab a flight from Connemara Airport at Inverin.

Once you arrive on Inis Mór, you can travel to the fort by foot or you can rent a bike near the pier (I can’t recommend exploring the island on bike enough!).

The visitor centre

You’ll find the Dún Aonghasa Visitor Center on the edge of Kilmurvey Craft Village where it boasts a wealth of information about the fort, the Cliffs, and the island.

There are several presentation outlets and heaps educational material at the centre which will give you a solid insight into the fort and the island. Here’s how much it costs to visit:

  • Adult: €5.00
  • Group/Senior: €4.00
  • Child/Student: €3.00
  • Family: €13.00
  • Free admission when staying overnight on Inis Mór participating accommodation.

Things to see and do near Dún Aonghasa

aran islands dun aonghasa
Photo by Timaldo (shutterstock)

One of the beauties of visiting Dún Aonghasa is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Dún Aonghasa (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. The wormhole

Poll na bPéist wormhole
photos by Stefano_Valeri + Timaldo (shutterstock.com)

If you’re visiting Dún Aonghasa fort, make sure to carve out some time to visit the nearby Wormhole.

A visit here is arguably one of the most unique things to do in Ireland. Find out everything to know about the Wormhole on Inis Mór.

2. Many other Inis Mor attractions

things to do on inishmore
Photo left: MNStudio. Photo right: STLJB (Shutterstock)

There’s heaps of things to do on Inis Mor, from walks and hikes to historical sites and more, as you’ll discover if you hop into this guide

There’s also loads of places to stay, if you fancy making the island your base for a few nights. Dive into our Inis Mor accommodation guide to discover some great places to stay.

3. Inis Oirr

inis oirr island
Photo by Lisandro Luis Trarbach/shutterstock.com

When you’ve had your fill of Dún Aonghasa and Inis Mor, it’s well worth taking a ferry to the smallest Aran Island – Inis Oirr.

There’s loads of things to do on Inis Oirr and the island is well worth a visit.

4. Inis Meain

Inis Meain accommodation
Photo by EyesTravelling on Shutterstock

Inis Meain (the middle island) is another spot that’s worth taking a ferry over to. Although there’s less to see here, there’s still plenty of worthwhile things to do on Inis Meain.

FAQs about visiting Dun Aengus

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how to get to the fort to when it was build.

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.

Is Dun Aengus worth visiting?

Yes. 1,000% yes. The views, the history and everything the island has to offer (culture, great food and lively pubs) make it well worth visiting on a day trip or for a weekend.

When was it built?

Although the exact construction date is unknown, it’s believed that Dún Aonghasa was built at some point during the 2nd century. 

Is there anything to see/do nearby?

Yes! The Wormhole (see above) is the most popular nearby attraction, but there’s lots more to see. Just drop into our Inis Mor guide mentioned above.

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!

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