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Dunree Fort, County Donegal
40901828
View of building to the south-west.
Reg. No.40901828
Date1870 - 1920
Previous NameFort Dunree
TownlandDUNREE
CountyCounty Donegal
Coordinates228541, 438968
Categories of Special InterestARCHITECTURAL HISTORICAL SOCIAL
RatingRegional
Original Usebarracks
In Use Asshop/retail outlet
 
Description
Complex of detached and formerly detached single-storey buildings associated with Dunree coastal defence battery (see 40901813 for Napoleonic fortification; see 40801826 for later battery, built 1895 - 97), built c. 1860 and extended c. 1910. Three formerly detached buildings to east now modified for use as café, shop, and as gallery and museum, with modern single-storey glazed sections linking the buildings to the rear. Formerly detached five-bay single-storey building over partially raised basement level to the south-west end of complex having pitched natural slate roof with rendered chimneystack to the north-east pitch, roughcast rendered walls, square-headed window openings with cut stone sills, painted flush roughly squared stone block-and-start surrounds and six-over-six-pane timber sliding windows, and central doorway to front elevation having replacement timber panelled door with plain overlight; doorway reached by flight of steps from the west end having cement rendered wall south. Modern glazed section to the rear (north-east) of five-bay single-storey building (see above) linking building with five-bay single-storey structure having pitched natural slate roof with rendered chimneystack to the rear pitch, rubble stone walls with roughly dressed and squared stone quoins to the corners, square-headed window openings with stone sills, roughly dressed flush roughly squared stone block-and-start surrounds and six-over-six-pane timber sliding windows, and with square-headed doorway to the north-east end of the rear elevation (north-east) having flush roughly squared stone or concrete block-and-start surrounds and replacement timber door. Formerly detached single-storey building to the north-east end of complex of three buildings, now attached to central building to south by modern glazed linking structure, having pitched natural slate roof, roughcast rendered rubble stone walls, and square-headed window openings with stone sills and six-over-six pane timber sliding sash windows. Detached four-bay single-storey building with attic level to the rear of group of three buildings linked by modern glass sections, possibly formerly a toilet or shower block, having pitched natural slate roof with raised rendered verges to the gable ends, rubble stone walls, square-headed window openings to the north-west gable end with wrought-iron security bars and six-over-six pane timber sliding sash windows, and with square-headed doorways to the front elevation (south-west) having concrete block-and-start surrounds and battened timber doors; concrete steps to each doorway. Rubble stone boundary walls to site. Altered single-storey buildings to the south-east of site having pitched slate and artificial slate roof, rendered walls, and square-headed openings; building to south-west of this complex now in use as a café. Detached six-bay single-storey building to the west of complex, built c. 1910, having two single-bay flat-roofed porch extensions to the east\south-east elevation, single-bay flat-roofed porch extension to the north-east gable end, and with single-storey extension to the centre of the rear elevation (west). Pitched artificial slate roof with two cement rendered chimneystacks with clay pots over. Roughcast rendered walls over moulded red brick plinth course; cement rendered finish to porches to the north-east end of the main elevation and to the north-east gable end, red brick construction to porch to the south-west end of the main elevation. Square-headed window openings with moulded timber surrounds, timber sills, and timber casement windows (some with fixed-pan timber windows over), metal security meshes to openings. Square-headed doorways to porches having replacement battened timber doors and double doors, concrete lintel over doorway to the south-west end of front elevation. Square-headed doorway to the centre of the front elevation (east) having timber battened double-doors with multiple-pane timber overlight. Detached red brick toilet block to the south-east of building to the west having moulded red brick coping over; rubble stone boundary walls to site having random rubble stone coping over. Buildings set within larger complex of structures associated with fort Dunree, located to the east of the Napoleonic fort (see 40901801); to the west of the later fort (see 40901826) on the summit of Dunree Hill, and to the west of the substantial complex of corrugated-metal clad buildings (see 40901824).

Appraisal

This substantial group of single-storey structures constitute and integral element of the Fort Dunree site (see 40901813 for original fort; see 40901826 for later fort on summit of Dunree Hill). Although some of these buildings have been altered, they retain much of their original character and form, and a good deal of their original fabric including natural slate roofs and timber sliding sash and timber casement windows. These buildings were robustly constructed using local rubble stone masonry, their continued existence after a long period of neglect indicative of the quality of their original construction. The robust form of these stone-built structures is in contrast to the mainly corrugated-metal clad utilitarian structures to the main barrack complex (see 40901824) adjacent to the east. The three central buildings to site have been sensitively modified in recent years to accommodate new use as a museum, gallery and exhibition space, retaining much of their early character and form, and providing a new facility for tourists and the local community. The southern most of these three buildings was reputedly formerly in use as a military hospital, an important facility in a relatively large military complex. A number of the buildings in this complex may predate the establishment of the later fort on Dunree Hill in 1895 - 97 to the east and are probably the earliest buildings still extant outside the confines of the original fort to the west (see 40901801). The domestic appearance of the detached or two semi-detached buildings to the west of the site with multiple porches suggests that this was formerly in use as a house or houses, perhaps for military medical personnel living quarters or officer's quarters. The unusual single-storey structure to the north-east of the complex having four doorways to the front elevation suggests that this may be a store, or perhaps a toilet or shower block. These structures date to c. 1900, or slightly beforehand, and were constructed by the British Army (or Royal Engineers), which was stationed at Dunree Fort until 1938 (Lough Swilly was one of the three 'Treaty Ports'). It was subsequently occupied by the Irish Army who fortified the site during World War Two\The Emergency. The site was later abandoned following the end of World War Two. These structures form part of a site that together constitute one of a number of coastal batteries built by the British military around Lough Swilly along with Inch Fort and Ned's Point to the south, Lenan Head to the north, and Muckamish, Rathmullan and Knockalla to the far side of the Lough. Of historic importance to the Irish nation, shedding light on the strategic value of Lough Swilly especially to the British during World War One, and played an integral role in safeguarding Ireland's neutrality during World War Two.
 
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