The Ultimate Guide to Dún Aonghasa

Dun Aengus, or Dún Aonghasa as gaeilge, is the largest of the prehistoric forts of the Aran Islands, and is located on the Southern or the cliff side of Inis Mór. Thought to have been constructed over 3,000 years ago, the fort is believed to have been used by its contemporaries as a defensive structure, as well as having ritual and ceremonial function.

The Cliffs at Dun Aonghasa

The fort itself consists of three massive drystone defence walls, encircled by an outer chevaux-de-frise that runs from cliff to cliff. Located 300 feet above sea level, the fort offers breath-taking views of the Atlantic, as well as dramatic views that stretch the length of the entire island.

The Worm Hole

Along with Poll na bPéist (The Wormhole), it is one of Inis Mór’s most visited tourist attractions, and attracts thousands of tourists to the island of Inis Mór every year.

Cycling is the most popular way to explore the island, and most tourists visiting Inis Mór choose the bike as their way to visit Dún Aonghasa.. The breath-taking stone fort is located 8km from Kilronan Village and the journey takes approximately 40 minutes. Visitors cycle the first leg of the journey to Dún Aonghasa Visitor Centre, located about 1km from the fort itself. The next part of the journey is done on foot, and involves approaching the fort over rising ground.

Tandem Bike

The ground underfoot is mostly large rock and loose stone, and the last section of the path is over rough, natural rock. Care is needed, especially when descending. Visitors are advised to opt for hiking boots or strong walking shoes when visiting Dún Aonghasa. It is also not a journey recommended for elderly visitors, or those with reduced mobility. Dún Aonghasa is also a vulnerable site, and visitors are asked to co-operate with the effort to protect the monument by not interfering with the site in any way.

Getting to Dún Aonghasa

After renting your bicycle at one of Aran Bike Hire’s three locations in Kilronan Village (Kilronan Pier, Kilronan Tourist Office and opposite the High Cross in the Village Centre), head west out of Kilronan Village, following the signage towards Dún Aonghasa. On your way out of the village, make a quick pitstop at Powell’s Spar to stock up on some snacks for the trip out West. Keep straight until you come to Tí Joe Watty’s Bar and Seafood Restaurant, keeping an eye out for the Craggy Island Tourist Office on the right-hand side. From this point, there are two possible routes to Dún Aonghasa: tourists can either head straight and continue on the Main Road (the High Road) or alternatively, they can take a right turn down onto the Low Road, the island’s main tourist route. Both routes link up at both ends, forming the Ring of Aran cycle route.

Getting to Dún Aonghasa via the high road

Heading straight will take visitors on the High Road, the main road that cuts through most of the island and services many of the island’s villages (Mainistir, Eochaill, Ballanacregga, Gort na gCapall). Taking the High Road involves a steady uphill incline, followed by a gradual descent, joining up with the Low Road at Kilmurvey Beach, the island’s only Blue Flag beach. As it is the island’s main road, the road is surfaced and makes for a smooth and even cycle. Along the way, take a break and stop off at Dún Eochla, another stone fort located almost in the very centre of the island. Taking its name from the nearby village of Eochaill, it is thought to have been built some time after the better known Dún Aonghasa. Close by Dún Eochla, visitors will also find the remains of a lighthouse that was built by the British on Inis Mór during the 19th Century.

The High Road joins up with the Low Road at Kimurvey Beach. To reach Dún Aonghasa via the High Road, continue on past Kilmurvey beach for about 1km, following the stone signage for the stone fort, whose entrance and attached visitor centre are located in Kilmurvey Village.

Getting to Dún Aonghasa via the low road

Taking the right hand turn off at Tí Joe Watty’s , visitors will find themselves on the Low Road, which is indicated by a sign for Dún Aonghasa via the Seal Colony. This route links Kilronan Village with Kilmurvey and the Western parts of the island. The cycle is much more flat, with a small number of gentle inclines and declines, with continuous views of the ocean. It is the main tourist route on the island, taking you the scenic route along the coast, with views of Clare and the Burren on clear days. The Low Road’s surface is more similar to that of a boreen, less smooth, and also smaller in width. This road can be extremely busy during the summer, especially during the hours of 12 and 4, so it is important to be vigilant, ensuring your own safety as well as the safety of other cyclists. It is also a route favored by some locals and tour bus operators, so be vigilant of vehicles and pull in when necessary.

Like the High Road, this route offers visitors the chance to experience the island’s other attractions. Stop off at Port Mainistir, turning left up a small hill to Teampall Chiaráin, a 12th century church said to be founded by St Ciarán of Clonmacnoise. Take a tour of the Aran Goat’s Cheese Factory and Shop and stop off at the Seal Colony, located about 10 minutes before Kilmurvey Beach on the right hand side. The Low Road also has regular markers along its route, indicating your current distance from the island’s main attractions, which are a good time-keeping tool to ensure tourists do not miss their ferry departure. The Low Road joins up with the High road at Kilmurvey Beach. To reach Dún Aonghasa via the High Road, continue on past Kilmurvey beach for about 1km, following the stone signage for the stone fort, whose entrance and attached visitor centre are located in Kilmurvey Village.

Google Map of bike route to Dun Aonghasa

Dún Aonghasa Visitor Centre and the Fort itself

On reaching Kilmurvey Village, turn left and cycle around 200m. The Dún Aonghasa Visitor Centre entrance is located at the end of the road, behind the Aran Islands Knitwear Store. Visitors gain access to the trail up to the fort itself through the Visitor Centre, and there is an information point inside for those interested in learning more about the site itself. The walk up to the fort is 1km in length and approaches the fort over gradually rising ground. Visitors are asked to take care when making their way up to the fort and while inside the fort, being mindful of the monument as well as of themselves and other visitors, especially when near the cliff’s edge.

Getting back to catch the ferry from Inis Mor

On the way back, visitors once again have the option of taking the High or the Low Road back to Kilronan Village. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get back, giving yourself time to return your bike and make your ferry home.