Perched on the west side of the Inishowen peninsula, Fort Dunree is a coastal defence fortification in Donegal dating back to the early 19th century.
Built to defend Lough Swilly during the Napoleonic Wars, today Fort Dunree is a popular site of historical interest for visitors to this most beautiful corner of Ireland.
It’s also going to be home to a glass walkway and ‘Ireland’s first funicular railway’. But more on that in a moment.
Below, you’ll find everything from the history of Dunree Fort to opening hours, prices and what to expect from a visit.
Some quick need-to-knows about Fort Dunree Military Museum
Although a visit to Dunree Fort is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
2. Opening hours
Dunree Fort is open Monday – Friday, from 10:30 – 4:30 and on Saturday and Sunday, from 10:30 – 18:00.
- Adult: €7
- Kids: €5
- Seniors: €5
- Family: €15
- Group (10): €3 each
4. The glass walkway
Dunree Head is set to have a glass walkway installed along its coast over the coming years, offering visitors a very unique experience. There’s also due to be a funicular railway added, which is a carraige pulled by cables that’ll take people through the countryside that surrounds the fort.
5. Part of the Inishowen 100
Fort Dunree Military Museum is one of the key stops on the brilliant Inishowen 100 scenic drive. You can visit the fort while also seeing everything from castles and breath-taking scenery to some of the finest beaches in Donegal.
A brief history of Dunree Fort
Located on the west side of Inishowen peninsula in northern Donegal, Dunree Head is a rocky promontory jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Home to Fort Dunree (which means ‘Fort of the Heather’ in Irish), Dunree Head is renowned both for its natural beauty and as a highly strategic point of military defence down the years.
Since the early 1800s, Dunree Head has been home to Fort Dunree, where a key costa defence bastion was set up.
Dunree Fort was left neglected after peace was reached in the early 1800s, however, much later in 1874, 24 Pounder Guns were introduced to bulk up its defence.
Dunree Head and its famous fort are now a popular destination for people in search of Donegal attractions that boast a wealth of history.
Things to do at Fort Dunree
There’s a handful of things to see and do in and around the fort for those of you looking to make a day of it.
Below, you’ll find info on the tour, kayaking, walks and one of Ireland’s most scenic coffee shops.
1. Explore Fort Dunree Military Museum
Fort Dunree Military Museum opened back in 1986 and offers a unique, comprehensive insight into the bastion’s history of over 200 years.
A visit to the site includes a video film presentation in the audio-visual theatre and access to museum displays which exhibit life at Fort Dunree.
The museum seeks to display the fort’s key role in coastal defence, neutrality protection and its range of coastal artillery.
Highlights of the museum include a visit to the underground bunkers that house a collection of artefacts offering a look at the daily operation of the Fort.
2. Soak up the scenery around Dunree Head
As you might expect from the Donegal coast, the scenery at Fort Dunree is incredibly beautiful and dramatic in its scope.
Cliffs plunge into the frothing waters of the Atlantic, green hills tower in the distance. The sky seems to go on forever.
For those with a penchant for both military history and natural beauty, a visit to Fort Dunree is an absolutely essential component of any Donegal trip.
3. Enjoy a coffee with a view
For those who enjoy a distinctly less active day out, The Coffee Cup cafe offers a range of delicious refreshments (along with some very tasty treats!).
Grab something hot to keep your hands toasty as you saunter around Dunree Fort or take a load of in the cafe’s comfy seating area!
4. Give kayaking a crack
The stunning natural beauty, based around the coastal vantage point that Fort Dunree enjoys, means that water sports are popular in the area. Why not give kayaking a go?
Inish Adventures, a top kayak and aquatic adventure school provides everything from Kayaking to Snorkelling to Coasteering at Fort Dunree after the recent redevelopment of the local pier.
Things to see near Fort Dunree Military Museum
There’s plenty to see and do near Fort Dunree Military Museum, from walks and scenic drives to beaches, historical sites and more.
Below, you’ll find a handful of brilliant places to visit near Dunree Fort. Make sure to hop into our Inishowen Peninsula guide, after, to see everything there is to do in the area.
1. Mamore Gap (10-minute drive)
Mamore Gap is, in my opinion, home to one of the most scenic drives in Ireland. The views on a clear day from this mighty chunk of Donegal will leave you breathless.
2. Glenevin Waterfall (20-minute drive)
The beautiful Glenevin Waterfall is one of a handful of hidden gems near Dunree Fort Military Museum that’s worth exploring. There’s a gorgeous walk from the parking area to the waterfall (takes about 20 minutes) and there’s a coffee truck on-site during the busier months.
3. Beaches galore (10-minute-plus drive)
FAQs about visiting Dunree Head
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘When’s it open?’ to ‘How much is the tour?’.
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 Fort Dunree worth visiting?
Yes. Even if you have no interest in the museum, the views along are worth visiting for. You can explore the area on foot and then kick back with a coffee overlooking the sea.
What is there to do around Dunree Head?
There’s the tour of the museum, the various walks, there’s kayaking, wildlife to keep an eye out for and the very scenic cafe.
I was born in a quiet corner of a Gaeltacht on the Dingle Peninsula. Over the years, I’ve explored Ireland far and wide, from the wilds of West Clare to the shores of Sherkin. Particularly fond of heritage, history and hikes (and words beginning with ‘H’, apparently…).