Fort Knockalla - in Bunnaton, Donegal
by Military Heritage of Ireland
The first Coastal Defence work on the site of today's Fort was a temporary battery built around 1798 and armed with heavy guns from French ship of the line "Hoche",which was brought to Lough Swilly after short engagement (French headed for north coast of Ireland in support of 1798 rebellion) with Royal Navy off the Donegal coast in october that year.
In 1809 Ordnance Office approved estimates for new, this time permanent defences for Lough Swilly. Among these proposed fortifications was Fort Knockalla, located on the west side of the lough.
Fort Knockalla was build between 1812 and 1815 with some reconstructions after this date. It is triangular in shape with a tower on the landward salient angle. From the tower, the two walls of the fort, protected by a dry moat partly cuted in rock, lead down to the edge of steep rocky cliffs.
The enclosure of the Knockalla is at two levels:
- lower battery with seven gun emplacements for French 42-pdr's on traversing platforms
- upper level contains barrack, magazine, casemates, entrance gateway and upper battery for two 24-pdr's on the northern flank of this level.
The tower is quadrant-shaped in plan with corners rounded off. Two straight walls with musket loop-holes flanking both dry moats. Tower was armed with two guns: 24-pdr and 5,5 inch howitzer.
Across Lough Swilly, just a mile to the north-east is Fort Dunree, so that two forts: Knockalla and Dunree effectively commanded the entrance to lough Swilly with their heavy guns for most part of the nineteenth century.
Battery garrison abandoned fort in 1874 and finally Knockalla was vacated in 1886, when last gunners left this site.
Location of Bunnaton:
Townland of Bunnaton, in Co.Donegal
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