We knew that there were bee hive huts along the Slea Head Drive and that we should be on the look out for them as we drove. The first sign we saw looked very impressive, like it was an archaeological dig site. It was, of course, on an insane bend in the road, so we drove on thinking we would double back once we found any space whatsoever to turn around in. However, as we continued our drive we came across another sign… basically hand-written, in the yard of a quaint home (totally out of place here on the windy side of the peninsula, hard against the water), likewise offering an up close view of bee hive huts. We pulled in.
There were, in fact bee hives on the property, and other structures whose name we never caught – circular, interconnecting rooms with no roofs on them, completely wind-proof. This isn’t just idle speculation, it was a blustery day that day and yet going into one of these rooms was like cutting yourself off from the world. But I get ahead of myself.
We pull into the driveway, slowly to avoid a barking dog bent on preventing us access to his territory (who, in the manner of such dogs, became suuuuuuuuuper friendly once we were parked). Following the instructions on another sign we knocked on the door. A lovely old woman named Maura Houlihan greeted us. She was very pleasant and kindly asked for 2 Euros each to spend as much time as we wanted on her property. Funnily enough, in the moment Lisa and I thought it was a bit heartbreaking that this poor woman had to get by on what passing strangers were willing to give her. I’ve since learned that she makes enough doing this to fly to New York every year to see her grandchildren. She’s doing foine, jus’ foine tanks.
“Mind the sheep,” she said, and she wasn’t kidding. We went through a gate and wandered a couple of acres fes-TOONED with Bee Hives and sheep. Here’s the thing, or at least a thing, about them. They don’t all look like the picture. There were, in fact bee hives on the property, and other structures – circular, interconnecting rooms with no roofs on them, completely wind-proof. This isn’t just idle speculation, it was a blustery day and yet going into one of these rooms was like cutting yourself off from the world. (I really wish we had taken better pictures there… ah, here we go. Tom Clark has a good picture from above a set of these.) It totally makes sense – people would either learn to shelter from the shit weather or they’d migrate. It’s still pretty amazing.
Our last stop of the day (tourist-wise, at least) was at Dunbeg Fort. The exact purpose of it is unknown. Perhaps it was defensive, or perhaps it was ceremonial. What they know is that various things have been built there since B.C. times, until the 12th century or so (yeah yeah, “know” is probably a strong word when we’re estimating centuries) when the current structure was erected.
It sits hard by the water at the edge of a cliff. It’s hard to imagine the cliff being scaled, certainly in force, and so the defensive position eludes me. If not to repel a seaside invasion, why put your back to the water? Now you’re stuck. And thus the mystery endures…
We completed the Slea Head Drive then, coming full circle into the town of Dingle. The innkeepers helped us settle on dinner at The Chart House, which was a cozy, authentic bite of yum. The innkeepers also helped us settle on walking there, meaning that we got rained on going and coming. Alas.
Monday: We meet a wonderful, unique man who takes us on a tour unlike any other. I would encourage all of you to seek him out, but he’s very likely dead now because of me.