you can always walk to the oratory and around it as it is on a pilgrimage route which is a right of way, I would have thought that the shop and visitor centre would be open in September but it is a while since I have been there and cant say for certain.
There are many beehive huts on the Slea Head drive which you can visit, and to my mind, they are a lot more believable than the oratory whci is too perfect.
It is because it is so perfect that it has lasted some 1200 years. There is no evidence that it has been restored at any time, and certainly not in living memory.
Whoever built it was a master of his craft, and it is possibly just good fortune that it has not been attacked by brambles or ivy. Its shape has protected it from the elements and presumably there was enough stone in the area that no-one felt inclined to steal stone from it.
I think it is an exceptionally beautiful building, not in the way that a cathedral might be beautiful, but just in the pure perfection of the stonework.
I have mentioned the following many times on this forum: you don't have to go through the visitor centre (a private enterprise) and pay admission in order to see the oratory. You just drive up the road a bit and you will see a small carpark on your left. You walk through a gap in the wall and follow the fuchsia-lined path right up to Gallarus. No admission fee payable. Enjoy!
Regarding the beehive huts along the Slea Head Drive: these are NOT "prehistoric" as claimed by the signs on the road. Beehive huts are mostly early medieval structures and this type of building was indeed used right into the 19th century. So don't be fooled by the signs. They are still interesting to see but "prehistoric" they ain't!
Thank you everyone for the replies. I look forward to visiting.
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