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Ruins of Dun Aengus – Aran Islands Art

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During my short stay on Inis Mór., I managed to visit two of the iron age “forts” that dot the Irish island, The second, Dun Aengus (or Dún Aonghasa) is seen in this panorama print.

This ancient structure forms a half circle against the sheer drop of a cliff. Unfortunately, there’s no written record to explain why they were built or even their prehistoric names.

Dun is Celtic Irish for Fort as that was what they were initially thought to be in comparably modern times. The rather romantic notion was that these were the last refuges of a people pushed from mainland Ireland. But the truth is no one even knows for sure if these were defensive structures. Fort or amphitheater facing the sea? Spiritual place? Or some combination there-of?

Dun Aengus is the best known of these ring forts and it’s the most visited by tourists to the Aran Islands. The feelings I had when I first saw Dun Aengus are hard to describe. Part of that feeling is no doubt the ancient mystery, and there’s definitely an element of that magic that is due to the amazing landscape. I took quite a few photos of this amazing place, including this panorama.

There’s no science to my belief that Dun Aengus was more than a mere fort. There were definitely defensive elements to the place, but perhaps it was so special to the people that built it that they felt this place needed protection as well as reverence? But as I gaze up that hill to those old Irish ruins, I think this has the feeling of a processional route of some sort. Doesn’t it feel like a grand approach to you? More than you’d expect from some place that was simply a fort?

Dun Aengus seems destined to remain one of many riddles we have from the prehistoric world. There’s a beauty in mysteries, though. Especially ones situated in such an incredible windswept landscape like the one just off the Irish Coast on the Aran Islands.


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