Fahan Beehive Huts, Co Kerry

Fahan is an area on the Dingle Peninsula in Co Kerry, noted for a collection of clochán, or drystone beehive huts. Fahan lies below Mount Eagle on the southern coast of the Dingle peninsula, to the west of the fishing village of Ventry and to the east of the steep cliffs of Slea Head. Fahan has many antiquities, including cave dwellings, stone beehive huts, stone monuments and forts.

The Fahan Beehive Huts, also known as Caher Conor are said to be the most remarkable in Ireland. The Caher Conor complex consists of five structures and the huts were probably once single family dwellings, attached to each other with via inter-connecting doorways – linking the huts together. Some of the stone huts in the Fahan group lay within stone ring forts. The cashels and clochán formed two clusters, or “cities”, of the Fahan group.

They were built in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the center than the one beneath and so on up to a small aperture at the top that could be closed with a single small flagstone or capstone. No mortar was used in building, which is called corbelling.

The hillside at one time had over 400 of these drystone, corbelled huts surviving, prompting one antiquarian in the 19th century to refer to the area as the “City of Fahan”. Dating the huts is difficult because the skill of corbelling has been used in Newgrange (3100 BC) and as recently as the 1950s. The huts at Fahan along the Slea Head Drive may well date to the 12th Century when the incoming Normans forced the Irish off the good land and out to the periphery of the Dingle Peninsula.

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