I'll have to wade through my actual photographs for one of a beehive hut we saw while on holidays one year...it's more of a close-up and you are able to see the shape and the way the stones are laid more clearly.
Anyway...these are beehive huts which were the homes of hermit monks who lived in them around the 6th c ce when Christianity was very much a new religion in Ireland...so new that it had hardly reached the masses...just a few converts who retreated to out-lying areas and tiny rocky islands to practice their new-found faith.
The island where these beehive huts are is about twelve kilometres from the mainland so it was certainly isolated...it must have been bitterly cold in winter with the Atlantic virtually on the doorstep. There was presumably some system of getting basic supplies to those hardy souls...the surrounding land is far too stony and salt swept to have supported any kind of a vegetable plot...and there is no room to spare for animals to be reared and eaten either...
There are more beehive huts on the mainland...mostly around the Kerry area, which is the far south of Ireland, and all are close enough to the ocean...but they did have the advantage of bigger stretches of surrounding land on which to have become self-sufficient. Some are ruinous, but many remain in the same condition as they were when they were first built, with the only recent concession being towards the tourists with neatly laid gravel pathways so they don't get their shoes muddy.
There is just enough room in a beehive hut for two people as long as you stand still and don't try dancing about...and those we've seen have been empty. Not a trace remains of any kind of furnishing...nor are there traces of where a fire might have been. And fire places are easily found and identified from burnt stones and traces of ashes.
It's a puzzle as well, as to why those men retreated from their societies...I do wonder why they didn't stay and attempt to convert their neighbours, which recent converts to something new are prone to do...was that a matter perhaps of their personal safety...Paganism was the belief of choice for the majority after all and they'd not have welcomed another belief readily. Did those hermit monks choose out of the way places to live and meditate because they felt safer...
There might never be an answer to that question of course...it will probably remain a puzzle.
I wrote about the beehive huts on Multiply ages ago...it was a longer blog than this one because I knew more or perhaps I'd padded it out a bit...but one comment came from someone who'd obviously missed the point altogether...she said 'Does anyone still keep bees in the beehive huts?'