Gougane Barra National Forest Park is bordered by three mountain ranges and the wide open River Lee Valley. It is here that St. Finbarr, Patron Saint of Cork, planted his monastery. This is Ireland’s first National Park.
The forest park is comprised of 350 acres that were planted by the Irish Forestry Service in 1938. The trees are primarily Lodgepole Pine, Sitka Spruce, and Japanese Larch.
Follow trails to scenic views, across bridges and up hillsides. This park is tucked in a valley that feels like a mini Yosemite Valley. Lush places to picnic, hike, and inhale the fresh air.
There are many walks and hikes to choose from; refer to the map in the main forest park parking lot. Or drive the motorway and view the park from your car. There is fishing in Gougane Barra Lake – permits are available at the gift shop and the season runs from March 17th to October 12th. The lake is not a stocked lake. It contains the native Brown Trout.
Cronin’s Bar and Café, next to the hotel.
Stay at the Gougane Barra Hotel, situated on the shore of Gougane Barra Lake.
By rental car:
From Bantry, take R584 road through the Pass of Keimaneigh to Ballingeary. Follow the signs for Gougane Barra Forest Park.
See www.buseireann.ie website for all current travel details and restrictions.
Take the Gougane Barra Cycling Route starting in the Mardyke in Cork city and traveling west to Inchigeelagh. It passes through the forest park, then on to Kealkill and the Beara Peninsula where it joins the Beara Way Cycling Route. Call 027 70054027 70054 for more information. Bikes can be transported on the Irish Rail Network with a small additional fare for bike depending on the length of your journey.
Summer months of June – August, but beware the midges after the rains. Theatre by the Lake mid-July to early September. Open Water Swim in lat August.