Clocháin or ‘Beehive’ Houses

Fahan, Ceann Trá / Ventry
Tel.: +353 (0) 066 9156333 Fax.: +353 (0) 066 9156348
Clochán, Beehive hut. ©Isabel Bennet, Musaem Chorca Dhuibhne Clochán, Beehive hut. ©Isabel Bennet Clochán, Beehive hut. ©Isabel Bennet

The most common surviving house type in Corca Dhuibhne during the Early Medieval period was the clochán, a round house built using local stone, and roofed either in stone, using the corbelling technique, or thatched or perhaps roofed with wooden shingles.  Although these buildings are to be found throughout the peninsula, both as unenclosed examples but also within earthen ringforts, stone cashels and monastic sites, many examples can be found in the Ceann Trá area, particularly near Slea Head.  They perhaps date from the 6th to the 10th or 11th centuries AD.  These structures are found either singly, conjoined or three together.  These were the houses in which people lived, be they of moderate or even high status, or monks within monasteries.  Sometimes underground passages known as souterrains are found associated with them. 

Locally, they are called ‘beehive’ houses – because of their similarity in appearance to a type of beehive current in the past, but not so much today.  But the word in Irish, clochán, which incorporates the element cloch (stone) is perhaps a more accurate term to use.

Some of these structures date from more recent times, as they seem to have been a popular form of outbuilding at the end of the 19th and early in the 20th century, and are often found associated with farmhouses of this date. 

If you travel towards Slea Head from Ceann Trá, you will see signs informing about these monuments.  The landowners usually charge a small entrance fee to visit the sites.

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Clocháin or ‘Beehive’ Houses
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All Year
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