Lough Swilly has long been of immense historical significance. The Norsemen and later the Anglo-Normans and the mercenary soldiers, the Gallowglasses used the Swilly when coming to Ireland.
The Flight of the Earls, O’Neill and O’Donnell into exile took place from Rathmullan in September 1607. Wolfe Tone was taken under naval arrest into Buncrana in 1798 and In more recent times during World War I, the Grand Fleet sheltered in the Lough.
In the late 19th Century the fort was modernised and enlarged with the building of the, ‘Top Fort’ on Dunree Hill. During World War I it stood guard whilst Admiral Lord Jellicoe’s fleet anchored in Lough Swilly prior to engaging the German Navy at the Battle of Jutland.
Control of the fort was transferred to the Irish Free State just before World War II.
During World War II Irish forces were stationed at Fort Dunree to prevent the warring nations violating the country’s neutrality.
Today Fort Dunree houses a facinating display of military memorabilia and artefacts as well as an array of large guns from the 20th Century.