Inishmore and Dun Aengus

Ashore for breakfast, left dinghy on beach, and rented bikes from the shop a few yards away. Cycled to the extraordinary pre-Christian fort of Dun Aengus through delightful lanes and by tiny fields with a few cows in each, quite unlike the rocky view of the island from a distance. Ponies and traps trotted by carrying tourists.

Rapid transit
Rapid transit

Away from the road we chose there were hundreds of acres of karst, a rare and protected environment for plants composed of a flat limestone pavement full of fissures, from a few centimetres to a metre or two.

Karst
Karst

A wide variety of apparently rare plants thrives in the cracks, though it was beyond me to identify most of them. From a distance the view is of bare grey rock, which becomes more and more interesting as you get closer.

Tony and the bike
Tony and the bikes

None of my photos does justice to Dun Aengus, though I have included some of them (all at the bottom of this post). Only an aerial view shows what it is really like – an iron age fort dating to 700 BC, developed progressively through to about 1000 AD, perched on the edge of a sheer cliff, with defensive walls on one side but no wall at all on the cliff side. There is a good visitor centre.Aerial View of Dun Aengus Fort

Teenagers were sidling up to the edge when we arrived, making me – a vertigo sufferer – feel queasy watching. I got to within a couple of metres of the edge to take photos, gritting my teeth, but that was more than close enough. The view was stunning.

Taxi rank
Taxi rank

We cycled back to the village for a bite to eat and then back up hill to the centre of the island to see the view from the old lighthouse, freewheeling several miles back rather fast, because black rain clouds were building and swimmers were leaving the beach.

A beach on the gentle north shore of Inishmore
A beach on the gentle north shore of Inishmore

Fish and chips in a hotel by the ferry jetty.

Talking to an islander, we heard a Dutch square rigger had gone down a couple of days before, and for a while we were convinced it was the one we saw at Killybegs. It turned out that there were two Dutch square riggers on the Irish coast, and the one that went down was Astrid, a training ship, which went ashore outside Kinsale after its engine broke down in a southerly force 6, which pushed it onto the rocks. Everyone was rescued.  Irish Times video of the Astrid sinking

 

DUN AENGUS

The path up to the fort's gate
The path up to the fort’s gate
Entrance to the fort
Entrance to the fort
Edging closer...
Edging closer…
...and peering over the edge
…and peering over the edge
Tony on the edge
Tony on the edge
Peter as near as he dares
Peter as near as he dares
Between two of the lines of fortification
Between two of the lines of fortification
What's left of the ranks of stone pillars - like teeth - that formed the outer defences. Some are stillstanding.
What’s left of the ranks of stone pillars – like teeth – that formed the outer defences. They are called by archaeologists chevaux de frise. Some are still standing.

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