[Plan of Dunamoa fort]

Plan of the promontory fort at Doonamo in the townland of Aughernagalliagh, on the Mullet peninsula. Featured on the plan are the wall and fosse, the entrance and its defences, chambers within the walls, and stones which have been identified as chevaux-de-frise or, alternatively, the gravestones of a children's burial ground.
The key to the letters within the image are given in a footnote on p. 71 (see Related Text).
Source: Markus Casey, 'Excavation at the promontory fort at Doonamo, Aughernacalliagh, Co. Mayo', Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, vol. 51 (1999), 65-76.

Inscribed in Image

  • Text within boundaries of image – [left to right, from top down] K; A F F G H A; E; B D B; N

Image Details

Genre Scientific or Technical illustration
Technique Wood engravings
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites, Architecture, Forts and fortifications
Geographical Location
  • Doonamo fort, Aughernagalliagh - Named locality
  • Mayo - County
  • Connaught - Province
Keywords(s) Archaeological sites, Buildings, Plans
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 7 cm x 10 cm
Published / created 1841

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Sketches in Erris and Tyrawly
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy p. 69
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 914123 o 2
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.

Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

Farther northwards is another fortified island, or rather promontory, called Doon a Neana, or "the Fort of the One Man." I have heard nothing concerning this. So proceeding northwards under the guidance of Mr. O'Donnell, we passed the little inlet or harbour of Scotch Port, on whose rough beach [p. 67] some few boats and corraghs were lying high and dry, and again ascended the cliffs, which became, as we advanced northwards, bolder and loftier; and, when at the highest elevation, a promontory pushed out its sharp shoulder seawards, forming a fine headland, and connected but by a narrow isthmus with the adjacent downs. Here, as a more important position, there were much more important fortifications, and a wall about ten feet high, but evidently the ruin of a much loftier erection, ran across from cliff to cliff; protected outside by a fosse cut in the rock, and, in the centre, there was the gateway, protected by outworks containing caserns and covered ways of a singular and elaborate construction. This wall and the ruin bore marks of remote antiquity, their stones large and cyclopean in their construction, were mantled over with the long grey lichens that seem to be the peculiar vesture of buildings belonging to the one ancient race. Indeed, I did not at all expect from the other places I had visited, to find any thing so very interesting as the spot I was now admiring. It is called Dunamoa. The fosse, the wall, the singularly curious outworks, the interior lodges, which, though now unroofed, still gave evident proof that they were apartments covered in an exactly similar way to those in Innisgloria and Innismurry. The promontory indeed, besides these strong defences, bore traces of being fenced all round, like that of Downpatrick, with an earthen mound. Near the seaward front of the promontory and inclining to the south, there are the foundations of a square building of some size, but this was so dilapidated by man and the elements, that its [p. 68] exact form I could not trace; but the most curious circumstance of all, and which marks its importance and antiquity, identifying it with the oldest military work in Ireland, Dun Eangus, in the island of South Arran, (and I believe the circumstance I am going to state is only observable in those two places,) is, that in front of the wall and besetting the whole plain by which the fortress can be approached, a great number of sharp flaggy rocks are fixed on end, and so disposed as not only to hinder chariots from driving, but horsemen from riding, up to the fortification. * Mr. O'Donnell said that “he remembers stones here not only much larger, but much more thickly set in the ground than at present, but as they were good and handy for making quoins and window sills, &c. &c. they were taken up and brought down to build the adjoining village;" those still upright are from one to three feet high, and evidently have a connection with and are of the same date as the wall. The tradition of the people as reported to me by O'Donnell respecting this dun, was any thing but satisfactory, sinning not only against chronology, but against internal testimony and probability. He said it was erected by the Burkes, and was besieged and taken by the Danes. Now, besides having no resemblance whatever to a fortress that would be erected by a Norman de Burgo, coming as he would from the interior — it
[Note, p. 68] *Annexed is a hasty sketch of the defences of Dunamoa. A, the wall; B, the fosse; D, the defences of the gate; FGH, the lodges in the thickness of the wall; K, the ruins of interior buildings; N, the sharp stones besetting the ground in front of the fortification; the perpendicular cliffs are on either side of the isthmus.
[p. 69: Image]
[p. 70: blank]
[p. 71] bore to me satisfactory traces of being even anterior to the Danish invasion of the ninth and tenth centuries. I would suspect it to be the work of a much more ancient I would say of a PRIMITIVE race; of that people who constructed Dun Eangus in Arran, Dun Bristha in Tyrawly, and the Cassiol of Innismurry, off the coast of Sligo; that people who, besides those military works, erected either for sepulture or worship, or perhaps for both conjoined, the cromleachs, the giant's graves, the circles, and artificial caves, with which the whole north western coast of the island abounds. Be this opinion well founded or not, it is quite evident that these monuments belong to a people that came by sea from the north — whether these Vickyngr or Kings were the Danaans of an era long prior to the introduction of Christianity, or of the Danes of the tenth century. They must have belonged to those who came from the sea and desired to remain in connection with it; for, besides these fortresses so desirable for defence and retreat in time of disaster, and for stowing plunder in time of success, there are numerous sea caves along the coast that are dry (except in extraordinary cases,) in the interior; — these are called Danes' Cellars — "Cellairna Lochlain" — in which it is said those sea rovers stowed their plunder. I should much like to explore accurately some of these "cellars," perhaps I would find some remains of what these "paganiee kings" (if they were the latter Danes) tore from the ancient churches and coenobia of Ireland. [pp. 66-71]
Plan of Dunamoa fort