Fort Dunree is an 18th-century defensive site perched on cliffs alongside Lough Swilly on the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal. Always keen to do a bit of exploring, I stopped off on a recent visit. I found the place to be so interesting, steeped in history with plenty of walking paths and information boards dotted around the grounds. And, as you can imagine, incredible Donegal views in all directions.

If you want to hear more about Fort Dunree Donegal, keep reading:

History of Fort Dunree – Who Built Fort Dunree Donegal?

Fort dunree donegal, museum, wild atlantic way ireland

Fort Dunree was originally built in 1798 on top of an existing small fort, guarding the area. Lough Swilly had already been a common way of entering the country. The small fort was initially built to defend against the threat of French invasion and was added to in the late 19th Century.

It was extended and improved over the years and in World War 1 an English admiral and his fleet were stationed in Lough Swilly. Eventually, the fort was given over to the Irish Free State and in World War 2, the area was manned to prevent the nations at war from violating Ireland’s neutrality.

The Museum – Fort Dunree Military Museum

The Fort Dunree Military Museum opened in 1986, allowing visitors to learn all about the site’s past throughout history. When I visited on a bitter blustery day in March, it was more to do the walks. But I am sure it is worth the visit.

Complete with museum displays and a video presentation, you will learn all about life at Fort Dunree back in its day and the underground bunkers hold artifacts, equipment, and memorabilia.

donegal attractions

The Walks – Enjoy the Scenery and Wildlife of Fort Dunree

I really visited for the walks. Although I didn’t visit the museum, plenty of time was spent wandering around the grounds. The series of signposted walks bring you up around the cliffs and viewpoints to look over the Lough and surrounding cliffs and beaches.

There are three walks in total.


You can walk right up to the “Top Fort” where you can still see the guns that still remain. Be warned, there are plenty of stone steps you have to conquer before you get there.  You will be rewarded at the top though!

Fort Dunree Donegal, ireland, wild Atlantic way, inishowen

The remains of thirty old barrack buildings are still standing around the fort. What was once workshops, canteens activity halls and other amenities are now derelict corrugated rusty remains. It is pretty eery walking around trying to imagine what life was once like here.

fort dunree, building remains My Trip to Fort Dunree Donegal:

Eoghan had moved home to Donegal, three and a half hours drive from where I was. On the night of St.Patricks day, I’d had enough of the distance, got in my car and headed for the North West.

Breakfast – Claire the Bakers

Sunday morning we went straight for breakfast. Nom. Eoghan always takes me to a place called Claire The Bakers, and I’m not complaining, every time it’s been delicious!

hot chocolate, donegal, ireland

The ketchup came in these teeny tiny tin cups. I was way too pleased by that haha. Eoghan lent me his 50mm lens, so I spent more time messing around with it than anything else!

eoghan, donegal, ireland , breakfast

Food is pretty much what I look forward to most every day, so I was thrilled when I was handed this amazing breakfast. Normally I’m not a big meat eater but sometimes you just need a greasy start to the day.

clare the bakers, donegal hot chocolate, claire the bakers, donegal, carndonagh

Mamore Gap  – A Beautiful pass in the Urris Hills

We drove up to Mamore gap while we decided what to do with the day. Living in the midlands, I’m used to flat landscape that just lacks the awe of the west, so I love it up in Donegal. No matter what way you look, there is something to see; mountains rising up out of the ground, the wild rugged coastline and the ocean rolling towards golden beaches. It’s so different from what I’m used to and it never ceases to amaze me.

mamore gap, donegal, irelandurris hills, mamore gap, donegal, ireland

We had a mini photoshoot on the other side of the mountain, but I quickly realised my height was a problem when trying to take photos of him haha. It was snowing really gently though and loved how it came out in the pictures.

eoghan, donegal, ireland, photoshootdonegal, eoghan

Fort Dunree

I wanted to go somewhere he had never been either – something I thought would be difficult considering this is where he’d grown up, but actually after a bit of googling, there were lots he hadn’t seen, so we decided to go to Fort Dunree in Buncrana. There is so much to see in Donegal!

fort dunree, donegal, ireland

We walked the perimeter of the grounds, exploring the coast and caves. Afterward, we took on the stone steps to the top of the Fort.

Lots of Images:

fort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, ireland

eoghan donegal eoghan donegalThe place was so cool. It’s an old defense fort. The surrounding area was so scenic. Although we didn’t go into the actual museum, there were lots to see and there was a load of walks around the site.

fort dunree, donegal, ireland


fort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, irelandfort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, ireland

fort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, ireland

We came to a hill with loads of steps .. my worst nightmare! But I did it, and didn’t panic. Did it like a boss. And good thing too, because the views from up there were something else.

fort dunree, donegal, ireland fort dunree, donegal, irelandSwan Park

We went to Swan Park for a walk too but because of the storms, it had been closed off. We tried a beach instead, but by then I was cold and hungry, so that was a quick stop! When we were walking back to the car a robin followed us along the path. He came so close, I felt like he was asking us for food. He had his feathers all puffed out with the cold. I was so sad I didn’t have anything to give him and when he realised, he fluttered off again.

We had a relaxed evening in front of the fire arguing over historic events ha, and he made me watch The Interview, something I’ve been putting off watching since it came out. The next morning I headed home. Although I had the worst car trouble along the way, resulting in a six-hour drive, I was grateful for the lovely weekend I’d had.

All photos of me were taken by Eoghan, check his insta out here. If you like these kinds of posts, why not take a look at more of our trips.

So, if you’ll be visiting Donegal, be sure to stop off at Fort Dunree. Plus there are so many other great things to do nearby. For example:

  • Malin Head
  • MAmore Gap
  • Glenevin Waterfall



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