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Dún an Óir By Isabel Bennett

By Isabel Bennett, with thanks to the West Kerry Live


Is scéal ana-thruamhéileach é scéal Dhún an Óir. Tá an dún seo ar an dtaobh thiar de Chuan Ard na Caithne. Tharla ár anseo ar an 10 Samhain 1580.  Sheol Sebastiano de San Giuseppi ó Santander go dtí an Daingean agus idir 700-800 saighdiúir féna cheannas, idir Spáinnigh, Iodálaigh agus Ghaeil, chun  tacaíocht a thabhairt d’Eirí Amach na nGearaltach. Thógadar Dún an Óir ach thimpeallaigh forsaí Shasana iad. B’é Lord Lieutenant Lord Grey de Wilton a bhí i gceannas ar thalamh agus Admiral Winters ar an bhfarraige. Toisc comhcheilg idir San Giuseppi agus Lord Grey ghéill an garastún. Maraíodh iad go léir ach amháin San Giuseppi féin agus a chomrádaithe.

At Dún an Óir, which is situated on the western site of Smerwick Harbour and is signposted, are the remains of a fortified promontory where one of the most tragic events in Irish history happened.  It was here, on 10 November 1580, that a massacre took place.  Some 700-800 Spanish, Italian and Irish soldiers, under Sebastiano di San Giuseppe, had sailed from Santander in Spain to Dingle, to support the Desmond Rebellion.  San Giuseppe’s men fortified Dún an Óir, but English forces under the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Grey de Wilton, who was in charge on land, and Admiral Winters on the sea, surrounded and besieged them.  San Giuseppe and Lord Grey came to an arrangement and the garrison surrendered.  All were killed except San Giuseppe himself and some of his comrades. 

This site, which is in State Care, still contains remains of the fortifications of the period, although the promontory had probably previously been fortified.  It is considered to be one of the best surviving siege sites in the country, as it has never been built upon.

The event is commemorated on site by a fine sculpture by Cliodhna Cussen, which was erected on the 400th anniversary in 1980.  This anniversary was commemorated with the staging of a pageant, with many local people acting out the parts of the people involved.

Some artifacts found at the site are on display in Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh (8 miles west of Dingle) www.westkerrymuseum.com (on loan from the National Museum of Ireland), and further information about it, as well as other sites in the area, and a lot more besides, can be found there.  You can also learn a probable reason why the site is called ‘the fort of the gold’! 

 Tel: 066-9156333 or info@westkerrymuseum.com.  There is also a café with fresh baking daily and a bookshop.  Beidh fáilte romhat!



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