Ailech or Grianan of Ailech

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER XVI....continued

Ailech or the Grianan of Ailech.—Another Ulster palace, quite as important as Emain, was Ailech, the ruins of which are situated in County Donegal, on the summit of a hill 800 feet high, five miles north-west from Derry, commanding a magnificent view of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly with the surrounding country. It is a circular stone cashel of dry masonry, 77 feet in internal diameter, the wall about 13 feet thick at the base, and on the outside sloping gradually inwards. This central citadel was surrounded at wide intervals by five concentric ramparts, three of which may still bo traced, the whole area originally including many acres. According to the old tradition it was founded by the Dedannans, and continued to be a royal residence to the time of its destruction, sometimes of the king of Ulster, and sometimes of the king of Ireland. After the fourth century it was the recognised residence of the northern Hy Neill kings, down to the year 1101, when it was destroyed by the Munster king Murkertagh, in retaliation for the destruction of Kincora by the Ulstermen thirteen years before. After this it was abandoned. For nearly eight centuries it continued in a state of ruin, the wall being almost levelled; but it has lately been rebuilt by Dr. Bernard, of Derry, a man of taste and culture, who, as far as he could, restored it to its original shape. The wall is now about 17 feet high. It still retains—has all along retained—its ancient name, in the form of Greenan-Ely, where Ely correctly represents the sound of Ailigh, the genitive of Ailech.

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