People who travel to Ireland's Dingle and head to the marvelous Slea Head Drive will be amazed at the sight of stone-made round huts. Many will also stop for site exploration and to try to understand how old these huts are. People will notice that some of these round structures exist in close clusters while others stand alone. Those who go further in their region exploration may also find larger settlements of these huts. However, there are many misconceptions about these round-shaped structures, and people feel lost and confused when trying to learn about their origins, what they were used to, and how to best visit them today. These fantastic little structures are interesting to learn about in detail, and here's what to know about them.
Here's Where To Find The Beehive Huts In Ireland
The beehive huts are primarily found in the county of Kerry in Ireland, with the most famous examples located on Skellig Michael at the monastic settlement, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Skellig Michael is an isolated rocky island found on the western side of the mainland of the Iveragh Peninsula. The monastic settlement is an early Christian monastery located on the island known for its steep cliffs.
- Recommended: People who need to learn more about the monastery on Skellig Michael are advised to head to the visitors center on Valentia Island. This is where they will learn about the history of the monastic settlement, the men that lived there, and the structures.
- How to get there: People can travel by boat from Valentia to Skellig Michael. However, they should be ready to climb up the 600 steep steps which lead up to the monastery and the beehive huts. The monastery is believed to date back to the 6th or 8th centuries.
Around Mount Brandon and Mount Eagle, on the westerly tip of the Dingle Peninsula, along the Slea Head Drive, people can witness the Clochàn structures in abundance. This means that these huts are not only found on Skellig Michael. One of the most spectacular places to see the remains of the beehive huts is at Fahan. Hundreds of structure remains, and other dry stone buildings can be spotted here in different states of ruin. It's been proven that over 400 beehive huts were recorded at this spot.
Here's Where To Spot The Beehive Huts Along The Slea Head Drive
Two sites welcome visitors along the Slea Head Drive. Caher Conor is a well-organized and the most visited spot featuring unique corbeled stone structures. This is where five small beehive huts can be spotted along with an old Christian rectangular structure with a cross-inscribed stone. The structure may have been built as the Gallarus Oratory, located on the peninsula's north. While the Christian building is now a ruin, the beehive huts are still in good condition. They are also subject to regular maintenance offered by the Office of Public Works.
Visitors to Caher Conor will be informed through a leaflet handed out to them that the site is named after cathair, a Gaelic word describing a ring fort. Cathair is the name of a structure there.
There's a thick stone enclosure surrounding the buildings at Caher Conor. This is not uncommon since many buildings feature ring forts meant to protect the inhabitants from the foes' raids. The ring forts also serve to protect the livestock brought in at night. People can see inside other circular fort walls in the area the many remains of beehive huts.
The second site where people can spot beehive huts is located at a short distance around Slea Head. There is a house for a Gaelic-speaking lady adjacent to the land where the huts are located. People will have to knock on the door to access the beautiful ruins there. The beehive huts in this area cover the hillside.
Some of them are still whole, while others are ruins. What keeps some standing is their use as shelters by sheep or as sheds by the landowner. This site is where a large building containing three beehive huts joined by doorways together can be found. This structure is one of the more impressive in Dingle. People exploring the building will see alcoves in the lower inside walls, a fire pit, and a structure that could have been used as a basin or a shallow well. It is speculated that this building was the home of a renowned family in the settlement.
Here's Who Lived In The Beehive Huts Of Kerry In Ireland
The Fahan settlement has two theories behind it. The first claims that Christian monks had lived there since the 6th century when they were looking for a place to isolate and bring themselves closer to God.
This makes the area a monastic community. The other theory claims that the Normans built the Fahan settlement in the 12th century when they had driven the local families out of their land.