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Site Visit – Lenan Head Fort, County Donegal

Situated on a rocky headland, Lenan Head Fort (sometimes spelt Leenan) is a British built coastal artillery battery from the late 19th Century. Standing isolated for over 120 years, the Victorian site was only in use for less than 40 years, but stood proudly on the cusp of the Atlantic protecting the deep-water Lough Swilly. One of a total of 7 forts protecting the 25 mile long lough, through time as both the nature of warfare and the political landscape changed the forts were abandoned and quickly fell into disrepair; Lenan Head being the best example of a site that was stripped out and left.

Lenan Head Fort was recomended in 1891 for the defence of Lough Swilly to be armed with 1 x 9.2inch BL gun, two 9 or 10inch RML guns and 2 x 6pdr QF guns. In 1901 it was armed with 2 x 9.2-inch BL Mk I and 1 x 9.2-in BL Mk IV gun. Between 1909 and 1911 the guns were changed to 2 x Mark X. They were removed for scrap in the 1950s. Reference

I visited in December 2016 and while the weather at the start of my visit was relatively benign, after 2 hours strong winds and rain made for a miserable experience. I can only imagine what it was like for the troops manning these remote outstations in all seasons. There are some fascinating features remaining, and I hope you enjoy some of the images from my visit.

Basemap (c) Google Maps 2016

The following guns were mounted on Lenan battery throughout its life until its abandonment in 1952 (Reference). A barbette is the raised platform on which the gun is mounted. While a barbette offers a wider arc of fire, it offers little protection to the crew.

  • 1901 – 2 x 9.2 BL MK I on barbette I
  • 1909 – 1 x 9.2 BL MK I on barbette I
  • 1911 – 1 x 9.2 BL MK I on barbette I
  • 1912 – 2 x 9.2 BL Mk X on Mk V mounting
  • 1946 care and maintenance

Magazines Video Tour

What would the camp have looked like?

While the buildings have long since been destroyed, remaining examples are still extant at Dunree Fort and also a very good example has been restored at the Somme Museum.

An example of the buildings that would have populated the site at Lenan Fort, this one at Dunreee Museum along the coast.
A beautifully restored example of the accommodation which would have covered the Lenan Head camp. This hut can be visited at the Somme Museum, Conlig near Newtownards.

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