Staigue Fort is an impressive fortress found in the Ring of Kerry, Ireland. Its hard not to be curious about this ancient fortress, and have lots of questions such as, when was Staigue Fort built, and why?
Staigue Fort, also known as Na Stéige in Gaelic, is a stone age fortress located in the Ring of Kerry, Ireland. We stumbled upon Staigue Fort by chance, because we were staying at an Airbnb not too far away from it. I’m so glad we did. Staigue Fort was by far, one of the most interesting buildings I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to over 30 countries so far), so I’m exciting to share everything there is to know about this gem in Ireland.
We’re going to uncover all your burning questions about this majestic fort and everything else you need to know about the Staigue Fort. So let’s dive in!
When Was Staigue Fort Built?
No one can say for certain exactly when Staigue Fort was built. When you visit the Staigue Fort, the plack will tell you that it was built in the early centuries AD, before Christianity came to Ireland. However, some believe it to be built in the first century BC. Either way, this makes the building around 2,000 years old – quite impressive! Staigue Fort is extremely well built and preserved for how old it is.
Why was Staigue Fort built?
Most would assume that these walls must have been built for defence during a war. In 1812, a military man named Charles Vallancy concluded that the Staigue Fort couldn’t possibly have been built for defence purposes, because it doesn’t have a parapet (which is a wall that is used to duck behind in battle.)
In reality, Staigue Fort once contained village belonging to Celtic people. The Celts were a group of people that lived in tribes all across Europe. The Staigue Fort was a protective wall for a tribe’s village inside of it. There were homes and tents at the time of use, none of which are still there now of course. The chieftain’s family, servants and guards lived in these homes, protected by the walls of the Staigue Fort.
Visiting Staigue Fort
Here are the things you need to know about visiting Staigue Fort
1. How large is the Staigue Fort?
Its hard to tell from photos, but the Staigue Fort encompasses an area of 90 ft (30 m) in diameter and18 ft (6 metres) tall. It also has a 6 ft long passageway that you enter through (pretty cool!)
2. Where do I park to get to Staigue Fort?
From the parking lot, it is a 100 m walk to get to the Staigue Fort. Securing a spot in the parking shouldn’t be too difficult, as its quite large, and there aren’t normally massive volumes of people visiting. Once you park, you’ll need to walk a dirt path and over a bridge that overlooks a creek.
We found the walk there to be quite scenic, and took many photos of my three year old daughter hanging out in the trees by the creek, and of the tiny waterfall. We’d recommend to enjoy the walk and the views, and don’t rush it, especially if you’re with children.
3. Is Staigue Fort kid-friendly?
Yes, Staigue Fort is kid-friendly. Like many attractions in Ireland, Staigue Fort can be visited and enjoyed by kids of all ages. The path from the parking lot to the fort is an easy walk for young kids. My child, who was 3.5 years old at the time, had no problem walking to the Staigue Fort from the parking lot. We even took some time to enjoy the stream and small waterfall.
I allowed my daughter to climb the walls of the Staigue Fort under close supervision. This is done at your own risk. We wouldn’t allow a child any younger than her at the time to climb the walls without very close monitoring.
4. Is Staigue Fort stroller-friendly?
The walk to Staigue Fort is flat and very stroller friendly. However, once you reach the fortress entrance, there is no way to enter with a stroller, because of the small wall opening in the passageway to get in. (You can see this clearly in the picture below.) So, you’d need to leave your stroller just outside the fortress while you explore inside.
My advice is to leave your stroller in the car, and simply walk to the Staigue Fort with young children, or carry them in a carrier if they’r very young.
5. Is Staigue Fort open year-round?
Staigue Fort is always open, as there is no ticket office or anyone monitoring it. However, its located on private property, so treat the area respectfully. There is a small honesty box to pay for your visit, which is basically to pay a “land trespass charge.” (Which isn’t as bad as it sounds.) As of 2023, the land trespass charge was 1 euro per person, children being free.
I felt this was price was well worth it, considering the landowners don’t have to keep it open, and the fort is also very well maintained. Make sure to show your support for the maintenance of this ancient attraction.
5. What are the opening hours of Staigue Fort?
There are no ‘official’ opening hours, since there is no official ticket office. However, the landowners could lock the gate at any time, preventing anyone from visiting. We’d advise to visit during normal daylight hours, starting from 8 am until dusk sets in.
5. Are dogs allowed at Staigue Fort?
Dogs are permitted to enter the Staigue Fort, however, they must be on a lead.
6. How do you get to Staigue Fort?
Staige Fort is located halfway between the village of Sneem and Waterville. Both of these towns are 20 km (12.5 miles ) away in each direction. In the town of Castlecove on N70, you will see a brown road sign marking the direction of Staigue Stone Fort. Make the turn.
From the road, its a 4 km (2.5 mile) dirt road leading to the stone fort parking lot. The road is very narrow and bumpy. Drive carefully, and take it slow.
7. Is Staigue Fort worth visiting?
I found Staigue Fort to be the most interesting things we saw during our trip to the Ring of Kerry. We were lucky to come across it by chance, when we noticed the sign on our way back to our Airbnb. I’d highly recommend seeing the Staigue Fort to anyone visiting the Ring of Kerry.
9. Where should I stay in the Ring of Kerry?
The Ring of Kerry has a range of accommodation options to suit every budget. Here are our suggestions:
- If you’re looking for a luxury experience: Parknasilla Resort and Spa. Get the most out of your Ring of Kerry experience by treating yourself to panoramic views of Kenmare Bay and the Kerry Mountains.
- If you’re looking for a good deal: Black Sheep Hostel. This prime location budget accommodation has private rooms, as well as shared rooms. Built in a cozy, historic building with a fireplace, Black Sheep Hostel is located in Killarney, just a 3-minute walk from St. Mary’s Cathedral.
- If you’re looking for mid-range: Brook Lane Hotel. Just a 5-minute walk from the centre of Kenmare, this boutique hotel provides a free gourmet breakfast, and a cozy atmosphere to return to after a day of sight-seeing in the Ring of Kerry.
10. Is there anywhere to eat near the Staigue Fort?
The Black Pub is less than 10 minute drive from the Staigue Fort. This highly rated, legendary Irish Pub serves traditional Irish food in a scenic setting in the tiny village of Castle Cove. If you’d like to travel further west along the Ring of Kerry, you could also stop 11 minutes away, at O’Carroll’s Cove Restaurant and Bar, or Pompeii Pizza Kerry for a rustic, wood-fired pizza experience.
8. What should I bring to Staigue Fort?
The weather is rainy year-round in Ireland, so come prepared with a rain jacket and wellies (rain boots). Since the Staigue Fort is located atop a hill, it can get quite windy, so I don’t recommend bringing an umbrella into the fort.
9. Can I visit Staigue Fort virtually?
Yes you can! Of course, its not the same as being able to experience these ancient stone walls in person. However, Voices of the Dawn offers a pretty cool virtual visit.
Conclusion: Staigue Fort and Everything You Need to Know
Staigue Fort is an impressive ancient (literally ancient) building that provides a unique experience for anyone visiting or who lives in Ireland. I was fortunate to have found this fascinating gem in the Ring of Kerry while I was there, and am thankful at how well it is maintained and that it continued to be open to the public to view and admire.
This fascinating structure has stood the test of time for 2,000 years, and hopefully many more to come. Be sure to show respect of the property surrounding the Staigue Fort, so that the landowners continue to maintain and keep it open to the public for years to come.
We hope that you have found this guide on Staigue Fort and the Ring of Kerry helpful!