Dunrally Viking Fort near Athy-
Largest Viking inland port in Europe.
There is an account in the Annals of the destruction of Longphort-Rothlaibh in 862 and this has been identified as Dunrally fort. It is considered that this was a longphort established by the Viking Rodolf who appears to have active in the area for about a decade. He used a base in Waterford Harbour to raid up the Barrow, Nore and Suir. His final mention in the Irish annals is the destruction of his longphort in 862. Four months later a Viking named Rodolf appeared as the leader of a group of Vikings on the river Rhine. This Rodolf was the the son of Harold, a former king of Denmark who had been expelled from Denmark in 827. Rodolf died in 873.
Dunrally fort is an oval earthwork on the river Barrow in Co. Laois. In the past it was regarded as a ringfort of native construction. It has a raised interior c.50m across. This is enclosed by a high earthen rampart inside a wide water filled ditch and bank. Recent examination led to the conclusion that this structure is the central citadel of a more massively defended structure. A huge D-shaped area is enclosed by the river Barrow and a tributary and on the other side by a ditched rampart. The whole area is 360m long and 150m wide. A pool on the river Barrow would have provided a safe anchorage for Viking ships. There was also a crossing point on the river nearby.
Eamonn P. Kelly and John Maas, Vikings on the Barrow in Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 9 No. 3 , (Autumn 1995).
Eamonn P. Kelly and Edmond O'Donovan, in Archaeology Ireland, Vol. 12 No. 4, (Winter 1998).
The area is very low lying and must have been very marshy in pre ‘Barrow Drainage Scheme’ times. A dry Summer allowed the Laoismen to approach the fort from the West and destroy it ‘on the fifth of the Ides of September’. We learn from the Annals of the Four Masters that the Irish were led by ‘Cinnedidh, son of Gaithin, lord of Laighis’, who later brought about destruction of the Viking settlement at Clondalkin.