We consider The Gougane Barra Hotel our "home from home." My husband and myself have not missed a year's visit for the last thirty eight years. We even have our favourite room allocated to us each time we visit.
The hotel is family owned, which is part of its charm. When we started to visit, it was run by Breda Lucy and her late Husband Christy. It's now run by their son, Niall and his lovely wife Katie, both graduates with excellence from top catering establishments.
The food is excellent and is served in the spacious dining-room overlooking the lake. Because the surrounding mountains shelter the lake, it's sometimes possible to see the fish coming to the surface to feed on the flies when the lake is still.
We always start our holiday by visiting the lovely little graveyard beside the hotel. Because Gougane Barra is a native Irish speaking area, most of the headstones are in various forms of Irish.
I particularly like the epitaph of Tadgh De Buchalla, the famous tailor of "The Tailor and Ansty" banned book, by Eric Cross. It reads:- "A Star Danced And Under That Was I Born".
Our next stop is the tomb of Father O'Mahoney, just under the graveyard. This is protected by wrought iron gates. He was the Parish Priest of several surrounding parishes in the sixteenth century.
Apparently, he was a bit of a bold boy, because he was sentenced by the then Pope to live the remainder of his life as a hermit on the island "having been found guilty of the sin of fornication". At that time, the little Island could only be reached by boat.
Father O'Mahoney spent the rest of his life on the island as a hermit. He rebuilt the ruined cells of Saint Finbarr and his Monks single-handed, which can today be seen behind the lovely little Saint Finbarr's Church on the Island.
He died alone on the Island and when his remains were found by local people, they decided to club together and give him a decent Christian burial.
Our annual visits vary between the months of June and September. On a few occasions we've been there around the time of the anniversary of Father O'Mahoney's death.
Several times I've noticed a lone artificial red rose carefully laid on his tomb.
So there you have it. Beauty, peace, an excellent hotel, plus mystery, intrigue, sex and scandal!
What more could you want and all of it together amidst the spectacular beauty of Gougane Barra in remote West Cork in the South of Ireland.
Valerie Sweeney (Journalist)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Gougane Barra Hotel is situated in a uniquely magical unspoilt lakeside location in the mountains of West Cork, in the South West of Ireland. Our 25 bedroom family run, seasonal hotel is renowned for its genuine old-fashioned hospitality, has a reputation for really good food, has a cosy friendly bar and sitting rooms overlooking St. Finbarr’s oratory. We have bikes and rowing boats and are just 1 kilometre from the National Forest Park. It’s waiting… ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Gougane Barra
- Gougane Barra Macroom
- Gougane Barra Hotel Ireland/Ballingeary