Visiting Ireland’s Fahan Beehive Huts with Paddywagon Tours

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Travel to Ireland - Fahan Beehive Huts, County Kerry

Travel to Ireland – Fahan Beehive Huts, County Kerry

Skies were gray and fog was thick during my last full day in Ireland but that didn’t put a damper on my sunny disposition. I was in the Emerald Isle and everything was right with the world.

The Paddywagon Tours bus parked just off the Slea Head Road (R 559) in the Dingle Peninsula. Gazing down the hillside through the fog I saw a pair of white sheep grazing in the green grass. If it wasn’t for the fog I’m told I could have viewed Dingle Bay. Looking across the road and up the hill I saw Mary and a beehive shaped building.

Mary, Keeper of the Fahan Beehive Huts, County Kerry, Ireland

Mary, Keeper of the Fahan Beehive Huts, County Kerry, Ireland

Heritage and Pop-Culture
Mary, with snow-white hair my Irish grandmother always wished for, is caretaker of an important part of Irish heritage, the Fahan Beehive Huts dating back to the sixth century. She’s also part of pop-culture history. When Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman filmed “Far and Away,” Mary, who is probably in her mid-80s, and the actor developed a friendly relationship. The type of relationship where Mr. Cruise visited Mary many mornings for breakfast during the film shoot.

Related: Embracing My Family Heritage through Ireland’s Food

Beehive Huts are that Way!

Beehive Huts are that Way!

The tour group I traveled with was invited into Mary’s home which really could have been any grandmother’s home. A rosary rested on the couch’s armrest, on the windowsill a ceramic tree was adorned with various ornaments representing Ireland, and a photo album with images of Tom Cruise from the film shoot sat on the table. The mantel had framed photos of Mary with the actor along with her children and son-in-law who was a first responder during 9/11.

Look Closely, No Mortar Holding the Stones Together.

Look Closely, No Mortar Holding the Stones Together.

Really, Really Old Beehive Huts
After the visit, we paid our entry fee to enter the grounds to tour the Fahan Beehive Huts located on the south side of Mount Eagle west of Dingle. According to the Paddywagon Tours guide there are 48 of these stone huts at this location and were built by monks during the 500s A.D. Made with stones, they’re called beehives because they’re shaped in a cone with a small opening at the top and a capstone to close it. Some huts connected while others had escape hatches in the floor which led to a tunnel to another hut.

Yup. People Were Smaller Back in the 500s A.D. to Fit through that Doorway

Yup. People Were Smaller Back in the 500s A.D. to Fit through that Doorway

What’s pretty amazing is these huts were constructed by the dry stone method meaning they were not constructed with any type of mortar to bind them together. When looking out over the Irish countryside and seeing the centuries-old stone fences, they were built the same way – with no mortar yet have weathered through time.

A Little Fog Added to the Mystique of the Fahan Beehive Huts

A Little Fog Added to the Mystique of the Fahan Beehive Huts

Also impressive is the ability to walk into the huts. Mind you, they were built about 1,500 years ago. Well before the United States was established and it seems as though something that old should be protected from human feet and hands. On the other hand, I suppose if they’ve survived centuries they’d survive 21st century visitors.

Mike of Paddywagon Tours Shows the Escape Hatch Found in the Fahan Beehive Huts

Mike of Paddywagon Tours Shows the Escape Hatch Found in the Fahan Beehive Huts

The Fahan Beehive Huts group is located in Glenfahan, County Kerry in Southwest Ireland and is an Irish National Monument. Sure, you can drive there yourself but let someone else concentrate on the narrow, winding roads by taking a guided tour of Ireland.

Sheep Grazing in the Fog Along Dingle Bay, County Kerry, Ireland

Sheep Grazing in the Fog Along Dingle Bay, County Kerry, Ireland

Additional posts by fellow travel bloggers
Learning to Travel, “Cliffs of Moher”
Pennsylvania Girl Goes Abroad, “Welcome to the Paddywagon”
The Travel Tester, “Exploring South West Ireland: Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle & Cork”
Wanderlust Marriage, “Touring the West Coast of Ireland”

Posts in German
Travel on Toast, “Irland (Teil 1): Grüne Insel mit Burgen, Cliffs of Moher & Eseln”
Esel-Unterwegs, “Geschichten im Nebel”


Disclosure: As a travel blogger attending TBEX, I visited Dingle and Southwest Ireland with Day Tours World and Paddywagon Tours. Opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links in order to support my traveling habit and this blog.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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3 Comments

  1. Cool post Jennifer! The beehive huts were certainly one of the absolute coolest parts of the trip (and there were many great aspects). It’s so funny that these wonderful pieces of history simply rest on Mary’s property…God love Ireland!

    Btw, I just noticed you are originally from Buffalo. I didn’t know that! We moved to Florida from Niagara Falls, with my father, when I was 9, after my parents divorced. My mother still lives in Buffalo- she was born there and that side of my family is all from there. I’m still a huge Bills fan, unfortunately!! When Bell and I lived in Tampa we used to go to all the Sabres- Lightning games, lots of Buffalonians in Florida!

  2. Alex – that is so cool you lived in Niagara Falls! Go Bills! I have yet to see a hockey game in Tampa but when I go back to Buffalo for Christmas to see my family we may go to the Sabres game – if it isn’t sold out!

    I’m still working on other Ireland posts – so many stories from that trip!

    Hugs to you and Bell 🙂

  3. Have a wonderful time in Buffalo over Christmas, Jennifer! I haven’t been up there in over 6 years! I’ve wanted to, but when I go back to the US I always go to Florida to visit my Dad in Orlando.

    Unfortunately the Sabres are having a rough year, the good news on that front is that you should have no problem getting tickets to see the game! 2 years ago we were visiting friends in Miami and the Sabres happened to be in town so we went, which was great fun. I’ve actually yet to see a Sabres game in Buffalo but caught a Bills pre-season game the last time up there. Have fun and enjoy the holidays!!! Hugs back from Bell and I! 🙂

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