The Grianan of Aileach
The 'Grianan of Aileach' or 'Stone House of the Sun' was founded by Druids 1700 years before the coming of Christ. Aileach was the ancient over-kingdom of the Celtic UiNeill Clan. That kingdom consisted of two parts, Cineal Chonaill and Cineal Eoghain. Cineal Chonaill roughly represented the area now covered by Co. Donegal, thus the Irish name for Co. Donegal, which is Tir (the land of) Chonaill. In pagan days it was used as a temple of the sun, and later as a refuge for the womenfolk when the men went off to war. Thus it was sometimes called the 'Weeping Place for Women'. The geographer, Ptolemy of Alexandria in Egypt, noted its position as far back as the 2nd century. In later years it became the fortress and palace of the Northern High Chieftains. It is said that St Patrick preached here in 450 AD and baptised Eoghain, founder of the O'Neill clan.
The cashel (ring fort) stands on Grianan Hill, some 253 meters (800 feet) above sea level. The 23 meter diameter cashel, made of unmortered stone, has outer walls 5.25 meters high and 12 feet thick. The entrance is more like a passageway than a gateway.
On the inside, two terraces, reached by a stone staircase, runs round at different levels, both set in the wall itself. Many of the stones are marked with tar....these are the upper stones found in the original positions when the cashel was restored between the years 1874 and 1879.
(The beautiful view of Lough Swilly, looking west from the Grianan)Just a few notes.....
(No, Liam does not have a big head - his hat is just full of wind!)NB. The text in this page was partly sourced from 'Donegal, An Exploration', by J.J. Tohill and 'Touring Donegal, A Guide to Co. Donegal, Ireland'.
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