The Lost Valley of Uggool
When they say on their website that to find the Lost Valley you must drive to the end of the road and then keep driving, they weren’t kidding.
With every turn you take, you think “this can’t be the road :)”.
The road narrows sweeps and turns becoming more and more engulfed by the deep, warm nature of the West of Ireland.
As you near the valley, it becomes more and more spectacular. After about 20 minutes of driving past Louisburgh, we finally popped out at a little car park overlooking a beautiful untouched bay.
The bay by the car park itself would warrant the drive alone to the Lost Valley.
Strangers gathered in the car park, getting to know one another as we waited for everyone to arrive for the start of the tour.
We all met the owners of the farm, Gerard and Maureen and their pet sheep and dogs who playfully jump around us. And no I didn’t mean sheepdogs, I meant, sheep AND dogs 🙂
The tour begins with an introduction to our tour guide, Gerard, the owner of the farm. Gerard is of course as much a part of the unique selling point of this valley as the valley itself.
He is of course not a tour guide; he is a farmer. The house and farm are where he grew up and it sits on the land he was reared on. This adds a beautiful and unique insight into the life of the farm as it is his home.
A fine big Irish man standing roughly six foot two and built like a bull, Gerard embodies the very rugged nature of the land we explored.
With his strong Mayo accent, he recounts the lands history eloquently and passionately.
He not only gives you a personal insight into his upbringing, the land itself, the history of his family and the history of the land but adds in little lessons of patterns in history for everyone on the tour to consider and ponder.
I don’t want to give too much away about what Gerard speaks of on the tour, as I feel it is a beautiful tour and I would hate to ruin it by spoiling any of the stories he tells. With humour, wit and passion, Gerard openly and honestly tells you stories inspired about history, land, farming, good times and bad, of Ireland, the famine, topical news of today, Celtic folklore, Hollywood, Brehon law and touches on a myriad of different subjects all inspired by the beautiful unspoiled land you explore.
As you move through the valley and farm, untouched for centuries, you finally come over the ridge to the view of the Lost Valley itself.
Waterfalls are beautiful,
bays are beautiful,
cliffs are beautiful,
valleys are beautiful,
beaches are beautiful.
But it’s very often in life where you get to have that feast of beauty in one picture, postcard eye line.
We moved higher up the valley ridge and came to the view of the incredibly large fjord completely hidden from the other side of the mountain.
The fjord (called Killary Harbour) is the only fjord in Ireland, nestled under Mweelrea, the highest mountain in the west of Ireland.
All up and down you can see fishermen and life with the harbour containing seals, dolphins, the odd shark or whale and a myriad of birds from ducks to herons, swans to plovers.
Moving off the ridge and down into the bay and beach, you move towards the home where Gerard’s grandfather grew up.
An interview with Gerard Bourke, whose family have owned and farmed the Lost Valley for over a century.
Here you get to immerse yourself in the history and life of the people who lived here hundreds of years before, but not before Gerard shows off his skills in bringing about the sheep using his trusty sheepdogs.
Of all the museums I have visited over my years of travelling, the Lost Valley of Uggool is indeed a special museum of history.
A living, breathing example of a time gone by, which you get the privilege of experiencing.
It is one thing to read or see photos about the past, but another to move through lands people worked on and homes people lived in.
The cup of tea and biscuit we had outside Gerard’s ancestral family home was one of the nicest cups of tea I’ve ever had the experience of enjoying.
The tour for me was indeed special, and it invoked a real personal sense of connection to my heritage and the land of Ireland.
The tour also obviously sparked our imaginations as for the rest of the day many conversations seemed to begin with ‘imagine when..’ or ‘imagine back then..’.
A beautiful, moving, inspiring and educational tour, which I would recommend anyone wanting to get a deeper sense of Ireland, its people, its beautiful culture, its history and tragic past.
As a hostel inspired by bringing inner peace and outdoor adventure together, the Lost Valley of Uggool ticks those two boxes beautifully.