The Ancient Sites of Inishowen

St Mura's Monastery
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Even the name is enough to conjure up a sense of ancient legends and history half-forgotten in the mists of time. Inishowen – the peninsula at the northern end of County Donegal in Ireland – is home to some of the earliest religious remains in the British Isles as well as a much older prehistoric fort. Here are some of the ancient sites of Inishowen.

Grianan Ailigh

A massive stone fortress built on site of a Neolithic burial mound, the Grianan Ailigh gives spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. It was already centuries old when St Patrick supposedly baptised the leader of the O’Neill clan here in 450 AD, and it remained the seat of the High Kings of Ireland until the 12th century.  

Grianan Ailigh
The hilltop fortress of Grianan Ailigh

Donagh Cross

The Donagh Cross at Carndonagh is one of the oldest and most famous of the Irish High Crosses, a 7th century Celtic cross with carvings reminiscent of druidic traditions.  

Donagh Cross
The Donagh Cross
Side pillar, Donagh Cross
The pillars by the side of the cross feature Celtic designs, in this case a bishop or abbot

Fahan Cross

Set in an old graveyard containing the ruins of St Mura’s Monastery, the Fahan Cross (also known as the Mura Slab) is a stone slab cross, predating even the Irish High Crosses.  

Fahan Cross
Fahan Cross

The monastery itself was founded by St Colmcille in the 6th century.  

St Mura's Monastery
The ruins of St Mura’s Monastery

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I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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