4th Visit: Donegal 17 & 18 May 2019 (Innishowen Grainan of Aileach)

This was the second visit to Donegal with heritage Groups from Mid Ulster and Donegal come together to take part in a study visit to Innishowen to explore sites linked to the O‘Neill and clans of ancient Ulster.

The two day programme included visits on the first day to O’Doherty’s Keep, Donagh Cross, Cloncha Church and Cross, Burt Castle and Grianán of Aileach with a showcase event on day two with presentations from the groups from Donegal and Mid Ulster demonstrating the heritage work they are involved in.

Visit O’Doherty’s Keep
The remains of a former 14th century Norman castle, O’Doherty’s Keep. In 1601 it was a small, two-story castle, occupied by Conor McGarret O’Doherty. In 1602 a third storey was added, and the keep restored by Hugh Boy O’Doherty. He intended it as a base for aid from Spanish forces who were expected to arrive at Inch Island.Crown forces burnt the keep in 1608 in retaliation for the revolt of Sir Cahir O’Doherty, who had sacked and destroyed the city of Derry. After Sir Cahir O’Doherty’s death at the Battle of Kilmacrennan, the Keep was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, who leased it to Englishman Henry Vaughan. Further restoration work was carried out by the Vaughan family who occupied the keep until 1718.

Donagh Cross Carndonagh
One of the earliest Christian crosses which dates back to the 7th Century. The Ancient stone cross slab of Donagh and its two guardstones are some of the finest examples in Ireland of low relief carved monuments.

Cloncha Church and High Cross

Visit Burt Castle
The Castle was constructed in the sixteenth century during the reign of Henry VIII. It was a traditional stronghold of the O’Doherty’s protecting the southern edge of their Inishowen Lordship. The design of the Castle was strongly influenced by contemporary Scottish fortifications, and anticipated the style of buildings constructed during the Ulster Plantation of the following century.

Visit Grianán of Aileach
The Stone Fort of Grianán of Aileach sits on a hilltop in Inishowen County Donegal 250m above sea level, the stone fort was probably first built on an earthen rath. The origins of the Grianán of Aileach fort are dated back to 1700 BC. It is linked to the Tuatha de Danann who invaded Ireland before the Celts and built stone forts on top of strategic hills. They worshipped Dagda (the Good God) and he too is associated with the origins of Aileach. It was he who ordered the building of a stone fort to act as a burial monument to his dead son.

Showcase Event

Following a full day of visits on the 17 May 2019 the members of the Heritage Forum form Donegal and Mid Ulster presented their work and activities.

The Showcase Event gave all the history groups the opportunity to share their particular area of interest on the theme of the O’Neills and Ancient clans related to the Heritage Project. Groups shared the resources they have such as maps, leaflets, Apps etc.