Dunmore Cave

Dunmore Cave



Location: 7 mi (11 km) North of Kilkenny City

Tel. +353 56 776 7726


Open: mid- March- mid- June: 10am- 5pm

mid- June- mid- Sept: 9:30am- 6:30pm

mid- Sept- Oct: 10am- 5pm

Nov- Feb, Sat, Sun: 10am- 4:30pm


Last admission 45 min before closing
Adult: €2.90
Senior: €2.10
Students/ Children: €1.30
Family: €7.40
Visit length: 1hr 30 min

Email: dunmorecaves@opw.ie


Description of Dunmore Cave

Dunmore Cave is not largest or longest cave in Ireland, but it long has been associated with dark history of Ireland. It is most famous for Viking massacre that was carried out in Dunmore Cave in 928 AD and claimed lives of over 1000 people. Since the ancient times Dunmore Cave was considered as one of the darkest places in Ireland. Superstitious locals referred to it as the Layer of the Dragon probably due to stalagmites and stalactites that give it an appearance of the open dragon mouth full of teeth. Needless to say few brave souls dared to venture into the dark halls of the Dunmore Cave.


During Viking attacks, however precautions and superstitions were abandoned. Local civilians looked for refuge here with the first signal of barbarian approach. Ancient Irish chronicles, known as the Annals of the Four Masters recorded the darkest page in the history of Dunmore Cave or Dearc Fearna (the Cave of the Alders) as it was referred at the time. In 928 AD raiding Vikings in alliance with the men of Godfrey, son of Imhar did find a way inside the cave and discovered hidden refugees. Vikings massacred men, women and children and subsequently robbing them of their possessions.


Subsequent generations of locals did discover humans remains as well as artifacts at the entrance of Dunmore Cave. First written description of the Dunmore Cave came from bishop George Berkeley who visited it in 1706 as a boy. However first archeological digs were carried out in 1869 by Reverend James Graves, physician Arthur Wynne Foot and Peter Burtchaell. They discovered numerous artifacts and large quantity of human bones thus providing first physical evidence to semi- mythical Viking Massacre of 928 AD. They found and identified the remain of at least 44 victims. Carbon dating put them around the date of recorded event. Furthermore bronze and silver objects from around 900s AD were found here hidden between cave's crevices and rocks.


Even today Dunmore Cave seem to offer surprises. Just recently in 1999 a trove of 43 silver and bronze items was discovered hidden deep inside the crevice. They were well hidden and Vikings never got to them.