Fort Dunree Military Museum is located in County Donegal, in the north west of Ireland, in an area of natural beauty. It was originally built in 1813, as a Royal Navy position during Napoleonic Wars, and then served as a coastal defence fortification. It is found on the west side of the Inishowen peninsula, on a rocky promontory with access over a natural fissure. It is the best preserved and most impressive of the six forts constructed by the British on Lough Swilly. At the time of construction there was heightened fears of a French invasion.

In 1895 it was redesigned to include huge naval guns. The top of the hill that over looked the site was walled in to make a redoubt. It consists of a Martello Tower and WWI defence structures built into the hillside. During WWII the lough was used as an assembly area for Atlantic convoys, as well as a mooring for the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet.

The meandering narrow inlet of Lough Swilly is one of the country’s great natural harbours, and has been involved in several historical turmoils including Viking invasions, Norman invasions, the Flight of the Earls, the 1798 rebellion and WWI.

The guns at the fort were manned by the Irish army until decommissioned following World War II.

Following the Anglo Irish Treaty in 1921, it was agreed that the British would maintain sovereignty over the Fort and it was eventually handed back to the Irish state in 1938.

The fort now serves as a military museum having opened to the public in 1986. It has a number of comprehensive exhibitions, an audio visual presentation, colourful displays and numerous restored guns like a BL 6 inch Mk VII naval gun, a complete expose of coastal artillery, as well as an old military camp. The museum serves to fully demonstrate the unique history and what life was like for the soldiers stationed at Fort Dunree as well as its imperative role in coastal defence and neutrality protection. The underground bunkers house a collection of authentic artifacts, providing further insight into the daily operations carried out here. In addition there are displays pertaining to the rich wildlife of the area, with birds, marine life and coastal vegetation all included in a lovely wildlife exhibition, located in the Old Fort Hospital.

The surrounding area is rich in WWI and WWII remains that visitors can explore. There are three main walks, they are well marked and vary in difficulty, each has their own rewards and takes in different aspects of the fort. Visitors can follow the sign posted footpaths and explore at their own pace.

There are stunning views of the Lough and its shorelines from here, make sure to take a camera. Take time to stop by the cafe and enjoy the refreshments on offer.