Sep 16, 2015

Grianán of Aileach

Grianán of Aileach was one of our stops while visiting Innishown this past summer. I say "one of our stops" but it was actually right next door to the hotel where we stayed, An Grianán Hotel, so it wasn't so much a stop as a visit next door.

The hotel was first on the agenda to gather some information about the local area and was partially handy since it has a visitors center right on site. As you can see from the a above picture, the region is steeped in folklore of the The Tuatha Dé Danann, the ancient people featured in Shades of Atlantis. The hotel hosts Celtic Feast Nights a few times a year. Unfortunately, and much to my disappointment, our visit wasn't going to coincide with one of these dates. However, I was able to console myself with breakfast in stunning surroundings of The Old Church Restaurant, a magnificent building dating back 150 years, before the boy and I set about exploring the visitors center.

For someone like me with a genuine passionate interest in folklore, The Old Church Visitors Center is something of a spectacular find tucked away at the top of Ireland. I was in my element. The boy was pretty excited too.  

Walking around the back of the hotel, we were greeted by none other the King Nuada, examples of standing stones and a Celtic cross, all with voiced information. Then onto the hut, where we met a hologram of Danu, Goddess of the Dé Danann. 

Passing through a door into the Old Church, we proceeded up the stairs to the presentation beneath the rafter, wandering around for a solid hour as colored light filtered through stained glass windows and chandeliers sparkled overhead. Among the exhibits are replicas of  Dé Danann's magical weapons, costumes, and an informative history of the local area. They boy even got to stand on Lia Fáil (The stone of Destiny also featured in Shades of Atlantis), which folklore says scream when touched by the rightful ruler of Ireland.

Unfortunately, according to Nuada's Hologram, his was not destined to rule Ireland. However, in an amusing twist, it seems I am. You can just call me Queen Carol.

My photos don't do the visitor's center justice but for more, you might like to check out this Youtube video from the offical site. Absolutely worth a visit while visiting Innishowen.

As instructed by Dagda, off we went to visit the Ring Fort.
Grianán of Aileach sits on top of a steep hill and is open to the public for a part of the year. It's not a big distance from the hotel, but walking it wouldn't be for the faint of heart. It's up, up, up, narrow winding roads all the way. I was glad we took the car. There is ample parking before a very short walk to the fort. Even in the car park, the views into the distance were something else. As you can see, we didn't get great weather. It is Ireland after all.

The ringfort dates back to sixth or seventh century and is thought to be the seat of the Kingdom of Aileach, and built by the Uí Néill. Finds at the site suggest it was of some importance long before the structure was built. The fort was destroyed in 1101 according to the Irish annals. In the 19th century the site was excavated and the ringfort rebuilt.

Outside, the ringfort dominates the hillside, with walls 16 feet high and 15 feet thick. Inside, there are three terraces with stone steps. If you are brave enough to climb the steps in windy Irish weather, the 360 degree view is worth it.

No comments :

Post a Comment