Monday, 14 September 2015

Grianan of Aileach

The Grianan of Aileach lies just over the border from Derry, in County Donegal.  The main attraction is a stone ringfort-thingmy which dates back to at least the 6th or 7th Century (although some say as far back as 1700 BC).  It sits high on a hill with a commanding view all around and is well worth a visit - though as you walk up to it you are pretty much guaranteed to get the head blown off you by the prevailing westerly winds, no matter the time of year.  It's always an amazing change when you enter the structure, through a long, low passageway - the walls are about 13 feet thick, for goodness' sake.  Total silence, no wind - perfectly calm and all mysterious-like.

This is the view looking out from inside:

Looking out towards Derry
And this is what you get when inside:

View from inside

As you can see, there are three steeped terraces and not so long ago I would have chanced my arm and got up to the top for a wee look over but this time around I was content to stay on terra firma and take a couple of snaps.

Did you see what I just did there?  Hmm...??  Yes, that was a scan of a print.  And yes I do know it is pretty awful - but in my defence it has been a while since I was playing around with chemicals in a darkroom.  The clouds I like.  And the grass.  It's just the circular stony thing in the middle that is rubbish - good job that's not important, then, isn't it?  It's on Ilford RC Warmtone in Multigrade, in case you're interested.

Stones everywhere - and no handrails

It is said that St Patrick visited here in the 5th Century and baptised the local chieftain, Eoghan - which is where Inishowen gets it's name from (Inis Eoghan, or Isle of Eoghan).   But I would take talk of St Patrick's visit with a pinch of salt - it's a bit like being a pub in England which has a sign saying 'Shakespeare drank here'.

Looking towards Lough Swilly and Inishowen peninsula

The nice thing about Ireland in general and Donegal in particular is that it's rare to get the full-on tourist experience at these sort of places.  By that I mean in spite of Grianan of Aileach being quite impressive, there is no visitor's centre, no leaflets, no interactive computer-generated walk-through of the fort as some-one decided it might look like in the 5th Century and no entry costs.  You just get the fort itself and all the time you want to dander about and waste film.  Perfect, really.

What's that? Oh, you want to know what the view is like?  Well it's pretty spectacular - nothing like in this snap, really, which is just a scan and a bit dark and horrible.

Towards Inch and Lough Swilly
Don't they have the grand names in this neck of the woods?  Like Inch Island, I mean - just visible there in the middle of that snap and reachable across that causeway-thing you can see.  Anyway, clearly, the island is more than an inch long and an inch some-one is obviously having a laugh.  (Ed: Inch, your reader(s) may like to know, is so-called as the Irish for island is Inis, which over the years has been Anglicised to Inch).  Right so, well, thanks to yer woman there - aka The Editor - you have the answer.

1 comment:

  1. Grand post mate! 13 feet thick walls, huh? Like I have stated before, you people over there have certainly been hauling a few stones around the place during the last couple of thousand years!
    Need to fortify something? Ahh... let's just move a few stones, then repeat for a hundred years or so, and it's all done with :))
    It's beautiful nonetheless, and great to sit down and have a good look at. There's also a wee bit of history inside these walls I would think.