Gougane Barra & the Lakes of Killarney
. Please note this tour is not suitable for Cruise Ship passengers due to time constraints
This is not a compromise or an alternative to the Ring of Kerry tour, but really is one of the most enjoyable day tours we do. It covers some of the most beautiful places in the country. We leave Cork and head up the Lee Valley for one of the most romantic places in the world to get married Gougane Barra. From there we travel through Kealkill pass to the beauty to Bantry Bay and the wonder of Glengarriff and the Beara Peninsula, a short drive along the coast to Adrogola Bridge to climb the Healy Pass. This Dramatic drive gives wonderful views of Kenmare Bay and dropping down to Lauragh can raise the pulse if you’re afraid of heights again we follow the coast to Kenmare stopping there for lunch. After lunch we head to Molls gap and a true dilemma for you, turn left for the Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe or right for Ladies View & Muckross House either way you enter Killarney along one the most dramatic routes with breathtaking views over the famous Lakes of Killarney .
Gougane Barra is situated just off the Macroom - Glengarriff road, west of Ballingeary.
Gougane Barra was Ireland's first National Park it opened to the public in 1966. This contributes greatly to the reputation which Gougane Barra so richly deserves as an area of wild and beautiful scenery. The magnificent Forest Park covers an area of over 400 hectares with the Gougane Barra hotel waiting at the entrance to welcome you to a wonderful lunch or even afternoon tea.this family run hotel has a well deserved reputation for excellent cuisine using local fresh produce.
The River Lee rises here in the heart of the Gougane Barra national park and flows through the beautiful scenic lee valley to reach Cork Harbour after a distance of approximately 50km. There is a tiny island in the lake at Gougane Barra connected to the shore by a causeway. It was here that St. Finbarr, the patron saint of Cork, founded his early Christian monastery, before moving down the River Lee to establish a monastery at what is now St. Fin Barrs Cathedral in Cork City.
Eric Cross wrote the controversial book "The Tailor and Ansty", a witty collection of sketches commemorating the talk of his friend Tim Buckley, the tailor of Gougane Barra.
Glengarriff - An Gleann Garbh
Glengarriff is one of Ireland’s most beautifully situated villages, nestling at the foot of the Caha Mountains on the edge of Bantry Bay. The Gulf Stream climate has ensured that this area has long been an attraction for travellers with its unique flora and fauna being its main appeal. This appeal is showcased in a number of the attractions that the village has to offer. Garnish Island in the harbour with its array of ornamental gardens is one of the premier attractions in the South West and the boat trip to the island takes in the largest colony of endearing Harbour Seals on our coastline. Glengarriff Bamboo Park is a recently developed attraction which showcases a worlwide collection of bamboo and palms all in a spectacular shore-side setting. The Ewe Sculpture Garden & Gallery is Ireland’s only interactive sculpture garden. A series of lush hillside gardens with fantastic sculptures in a magical forested setting around waterfalls. The Ewe is particularly popular with families and all ages are captivated by its inventive imaginative array of exhibits. Glengarriff Nature Reserve has one of the largest oak forests still intact and is home to a great array of flora and wildlife. The walks and trails within the reserve are ideal for all ages and each season brings its own delight and appeal. Two particularly attractive aspects within the park are the Waterfall Walk and Lady Bantry’s Lookout.
Adrigole is a scattered village half way between Glengarriff and Castletownbere situated around a small harbour and stretching out along the inlet on the very scenic south coast of the Beara Peninsula. Just to the North of the village is Hungry Hill, the highest point in the Caha Mountains. Hungry Hill (687m) has two rock-girt lakes which forms the spine of the peninsula, and gave its name to Daphne du Maurier’s novel about the local copper-mining barons of the 19th century. Follow the main road through to the very spectacular Healy Pass that cuts through this range to join the northern side of the Beara Peninsula at Lauragh. Adrigole is also a popular sailing centre.
The Healy Pass
. The view from the top is reminiscent of the Alps and is magnificent. The area has lakes, sea, mountains and forests. The Healy Pass is situated between Adrigole and Lauragh and is famous for some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland on a good day.
The Gulf Stream climate encourages subtropical trees and shrubs in lavish gardens from Lauragh to Glengarriff. Bursts of native woodland, oak, ash, holly, birch, all punctuate bare rock and heather and Mediterranean plants not found elsewhere in Ireland, or in Britain, flourish here. They include the insectivorous greater butterwort, a large and beautiful bog-violet. The lack of intensive farming on the peninsula allows hedgerows, wild flowers and fruits to thrive with casual luxuriance. Colours range from the bruised red of protected betony to the piquant purple of the fraughan, or bilberry Beara is densely studded with Bronze Age remains. wedge tombs, stone circles and standing stones bear witness to the dignity of ancient inhabitants. Iron Age sites, early Christian ring forts, medieval tracks and bridges, holy wells, famine ruins, old churches, graveyards and vivid villages add further layers of history and culture. Rich deposits of copper drew prehistoric settlers to the Peninsula and brought the industrial revolution to the rocky hills of Allihies in the 19th Century.Bantry Bay and Berehaven boast a maritime tradition that ranges from early medieval Vikings to Basque fishermen in the 16th Century, a failed French invasion in 1796, Britis and American submarines during WWI and the British Atlantic fleet that anchored here until 1938. Today, Ireland’s largest whitefish fleet is based at Castletownbere. After the Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, the chieftain Donal Cam O’Sullivan defended his territory for a further year against ruthless Elizabethan attack. He was forced out of the woods around Glengarriff in December 1602 with four hundred soldiers and six hundred dependants. They struggled north through hungry terrain in an attempt to join Gaelic allies in Ulster. O’Sullivan’s midwinter march covered hundreds of miles and has achieved cult-status in popular history. After fifteen days, Donal Cam reached Leitrim Castle with thirty-five followers. Soon afterwards, O’Sullivan fled to Spain, continuing to seek the support of the Spanish king for the Irish cause. Donal Cam never returned to Beara and the O’Sullivan grip on that territory was lost.
Despite its heroic soldiers and sailors, it seems fitting that a landscape as elemental as that of Beara should be dominated by a personage who is herself an everlasting force of nature: an Chailleach Bhéarra, the hag of Beara. Changeable as the weather, she is older than time itself. Even the Indo-European cow goddess Boi, who gave her name to Oileán Baoi or Dursey, cannot be separated from the Cailleach. Deity, witch, wise old woman, healer, medieval nun, shaper of the landscape, she continues to surface in literature, in academic research, in place names and in the subversive storehouse of folk-memory.As you cross the pass the stunning views alone over Kenmare bay and down towards Lauragh make this journey well worth the effort
Facing the Atlantic ocean in the South West of Ireland, majestic Kerry is a place of breathtaking scenery. You’ll be enchanted by the wealth of nature’s treasures to be found here - including Ireland’s two highest mountains Carrantoohil and Mount Brandon’ and Ireland’s highest pass, The Conor Pass Kerry is a place for lovers of all the good things in life; from the lake district surrounding Killarney National Park, to the spectacular scenic drives on the Dingle and Ring of Kerry peninsulas.
North Kerry, renowned for literature, theatre, music, art and storytelling is also the proud home to Ireland’s National Folk Theatre. Traditional Irish culture is at the heart of the county's Gaeltacht areas, where traditional Irish music, dance and song come to life.
Kenmare - Neidín
The elegant riverside town of Kenmare was founded in 1670 by Sir William Petty and is today a designated heritage town. You can trace the history of the town at the Kenmare Heritage Centre and learn about its tradition of lace making at the Lace Museum. Kenmare is a popular centre for watersports and horse riding, has its own golf course and a fine selection of galleries and craft outlets. In nearby Bonane a newly-opened Heritage Park features a series of ancient monuments while a traditional cottage and farm centre looks at life before the advent of electricity.
To the west of Kenmare, Tuosist and Lauragh are bounded by mountains and sea and offer a spectacular setting for walking, cycling and driving. The Ring of Kerry Golf & Country Club and the spectacular 19th century neo gothic Dromore Castle are located nearby in the small village of Templenoe.
Killarney - Cill Airne
Nestled in a mountain valley on the edge of a glorious lake, Killarney is renowned for its natural beauty and has been a favourite tourist destination since the 18th century. Further developed as a tourist centre by Lord Kenmare, the town and its stunning surroundings attracted royalty and dignitaries with their legendary charm and air of romance.
Today Killarney town blends quaint tradition with contemporary style and service. The Jaunting Cars still carry visitors around the scenic highlights and the picturesque laneways are as bright and colourful as ever, but the bustling streets are now lined with independent craft shops, small galleries, traditional pubs, fine restaurants and plenty of accommodation options, making the town a great base to explore the Region’s lush landscape and stunning vistas. After all, it was nature itself that first began to draw the crowds.
Killarney is the gateway to the Killarney National Park, one of the country’s best-loved parks, with its magnificent scenery, famous lakes and numerous historical and archaeological remains. You can visit the stunning Victorian Muckross House, the atmospheric ruins of Muckross Abbey, medieval Ross Castle or the tranquil ruined Monastery on Innisfallen.
Throughout the park the rich forest drips with moss and fern, the mild climate here supporting a diverse range of plant species and playing host to a series of sub-tropical gardens unique to this part of Ireland. Exotic species such as rhododendron and azalea thrive here adding a blaze of colour to the picture postcard views at every turn. Elsewhere picturesque waterfalls cascade between the rocks making their way down the slopes to the stunning lakes at the heart of the park.
West of the Killarney valley the dramatic MacGillicuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range, form a backdrop to the park and offer fantastic outdoor opportunities for hikers and climbers. The area also offers ample choice for golfing, fishing, horse-riding, canoeing, cycling and swimming, letting you choose how best to experience the natural highlights of the area.
Explore the dramatic Gap of Dunloe or enjoy the ethereal mists at Ladies View and soon you will understand why this area has been an inspiration to poets, writers, artists and musicians for many centuries.
No matter which way you choose to approach Killarney you will not be disappointed
Situated just outside Killarney town in the National Park, Muckross House and Gardens is probably one of the most popular of Irish visitor attractions.
Muckross House itself is situated close to the shores of Muckross Lake with wonderful views from the terrace.The house is a focal point within the Park and is the ideal base from which to explore its magnificent gardens .
Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. This was actually the fourth house that successive generations of the Herbert family had occupied at Muckross over a period of almost two hundred years. William Burn, the well-known Scottish architect, was the designer. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843. Originally it was intended to build a more ornate house than we see here today. The plans for a larger servants' wing, stable block, orangery and summer-house are believed to have been altered at Mary's request. Today the principal rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the 19th century landowning class. While in the basement, one can imagine the busy bustle of the servants as they went about their daily chores. During the 1850s, the Herberts undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria's visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition. They purchased the estate from Lord and Lady Ardilaun early in the 20th century. It was at this time that the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and Stream Garden were developed Queen Victoria paid a visit here, to the Herbert family, in 1861. The House was later owned, in turn, by Lord Ardilaun (of the Guinness family) and by the Bourn Vincents. Today, many of the rooms in this magnificent mansion have been restored to their original Victorian splendour.
Between the months of April and July, Muckross Gardens are spectacularly adorned with the red and pink flowers of mature Rhododendrons. Other garden features include a Sunken Garden, a Rock Garden and a Stream Garden. An Arboretum, containing many trees from the Southern Hemisphere, was established here in 1972.
Muckross Traditional Farms are situated adjacent to Muckross House. These working farms recreate and portray the traditional farming methods, and way of life, of a typical local, rural community of the 1930s.
Cost of tour 1-4 persons €440.00
Cost does not include entrance fees or lunch.