The Grianán of Aileach
(also spelled Ailech; Irish: Grianán Ailigh
) is a group of historic monuments in County Donegal, Ireland
built on the hill of Grianán which is 244 metres high. Most writers have identified the site as being the great “royal fort” of Aileach. The main structure is that of an ringfort built by the Uí Néill in the sixth or seventh century in the early christian period It is generally accepted to be the seat of the Kingdom of Aileach although the true capital is now believed to lie further to the east. The kingdoms of Ulaidh
and Kingdom of Oirialla
were two subject kingdoms in the North under the general rule of Aileach. Whatever its true status, the Grianán was a historical centre of culture and politics during the rule of early Irish chieftains (c. 800 BCE-1200 CE).
An Irish creation myth claims that this fortress was built by the great king Daghda of Tuatha de Danann. The grave of the king’s son Aeah
was in the centre of the fortress, which had been built around it. Whether such a grave existed is unknown; there are no archaeological remains, although a nearby tumulus could be a grave marker.
By the 12th century, the Kingdom of Aileach had become embattled and lost a fair amount of territory to the invading Normans. The fortress itself was destroyed by Muirchertach Ua Briain, King of Munster in 1101. By around 1177, the Normans controlled large portions of lands once held by Aileach.