Dunree Fort is strategically situated near the mouth of Lough Swilly in an area of stunning natural beauty. It has been attacked many times over the years by nearly everyone trying to get a foothold in Ireland including the Vikings, the Normans, The Gallowglassses, The English, The Germans and ‘nearly’ by the French. In fact, Wolf Tone was intercepted by the English navy on a French vessel in 1798 near this location and soon after re-assessed the threat from Napoleon and started building Martello fortifications along the entire Irish coastline! The word Dunree in Irish translates to ‘Dun Fhraoigh’ which means the ‘Fort of the Heather’ suggesting that this rocky promontory was always an important defensive location. The fort comprises of a Martello Tower (which is now part of a museum accessed over a natural fissure) and WWI defense structures set into a hillside. During the First World War the British moved their entire north Atlantic fleet into Lough Swilly from Scapa Flow in Scotland due to it’s strategic and safe location. It was also one of only three ports in Ireland retained by the British until 1938 after the Irish Free State was established in 1921 (the other 2 being Berehavan and Cobh).
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