The Fort of Gold (cover) Eilís Dillon
The Fort of Gold

The steamer came to Inishdara once a month, bringing the islanders their only news as well as their supplies of flour, sultanas and hens' meal. The day it brought the new school teacher was rough, and he didn't look like a man used to boats. Nor, when the wind lifted his broad hat and he reached a long arm to the waves, did he seem to know the old belief that if you take from the sea what is hers by right, the sea will get you herself later. If he had fears they were not from superstition, which lingered still among some of the islanders; especially in such a place as the Fort of Gold, also known as the Fort of Sorrow, where, in days gone by, Spaniards had been killed to a man, buried there among the old stones, and their gold with them, so the saying went. But only strangers would dare to dig there --- or boys perhaps.


"A gripping and, at times, weird adventure." (Maev Conway, The Irish Press)

"As fine an adventure as Miss Dillon has yet told." (The Irish Press)

"A thrilling, beautifully written story." (Sunday Times, Johannesburg)

"Full of atmosphere and appeal." (British Weekly)

"Strong, convincing, colourful." (Good Housekeeping)

"Stirring as is the plot, it's the superb characterization that will be etched on the reader's memory, the feeling for the island that makes it very real, the cadence of the storyteller's voice that will softly echo long after the book is closed." (The Cleveland Press)

"Eilís Dillon is an enchanter .... Both adults and adolescents are entirely credible, events grow more and more thrilling yet never seem improbable or melodramatic .... an excitement rare in children's books today." (The Times Literary Supplement)

"The Fort of Gold" also received some political reviews, which we have included as part of the Education and Research section of this site.

Now read the opening pages ....


Lying on top of the thick outer wall of Dún an Oir, Johnny Conneeley was the first to catch sight of the steamer from Galway. We had put him up there to watch, while we stayed below nicely sheltered from the strongly blowing wind. Dún an Óir is the Fort of Gold. It is placed directly above the little sandy curve where the slip is, and that we call the harbour of our island, though it gives little enough shelter unless the wind is directly from the north-west. When this happens, the huge bulk of the Fort of Gold breaks the worst of its force.

Today the wind was from the south-west. From where we lay, with our backs against the tall central column of rough stone, we could see through the door-space of the fort how the long summer grass was lying flat against the ground outside, showing its white underside like a shoal of fishes. The little blue harebells were blown out long and thin. Sometimes we could hear a loose stone begin to roll and rattle down the steep slope of the hill. It was cold, with the first cold of autumn, and we huddled together like pups feeling all the more comfortable whenever we looked at Johnny on his high perch, in momently danger of being clipped in two by the wind.

We were not in the least sorry for him. We had sent him up there because he was the one of us who had the most personal interest in the arrival of the steamer.

"You're the only one of the three of us that still must go to school," said Roddy Folan. "Whatever kind of a teacher comes on that boat, you'll be with him every day for the next year."

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