Discovering the The Lost Valley

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I'm not sure why it is, but the places that make the most impact and touch you most deeply are always the most difficult to write about.

Memorial cross in The Lost Valley of County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
This cross was erected in the memory of the banished, lost, and forgotten and those lying here in unmarked graves.

I've been trying to string together words to adequately share our visit to The Lost Valley for a few weeks now. I read and re-read the entry in my journal from that day and it is filled with words like “timeless”, “amazing”, and “incredible”.

And yet, those words don't seem to do justice to the experience we had, the place we visited, or the people we met, as I try to share it here.

Finding The Lost Valley

Located in the farthest southwesterly bit of County Mayo as the mountains begin to drop toward the Killary Fjord, you'll find the Uggool (O-ghoul) Valley. There are many places along Ireland's west coast that claim remoteness as part of their charm but few can lay claim to directions that state ‘beyond the end of the road.' Indeed, there is one way in and one way out of The Lost Valley, a fact which played more than a little part in the valley's near timelessness and unchanged landscape.

Dormant famine era potato ridges in the Lost Valley of County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Potato ridges lie fallow and undisturbed since The Great Famine of the mid-1800s.

Today Gerard Bourke and his wife Maureen take visitors on a walk through time, back into a valley so remote that it was rarely visited by the land owners, where potato ridges that date back to the famine still lie undisturbed, and where Gerard can stand in the cottage where his father, grandfather, and great grandfather were born.

Your Visit to The Lost Valley

The guided tour takes you along a green road that winds along the base of the mountains and provides a stunning view of Silver Strand and the ocean beyond. The natural beauty is astounding and Gerard allows you time to take it all in before you continue.

LISTEN:
Traveling in Ireland Podcast: Episode 21- Gerard Bourke & County Mayo's Lost Valley

Famine Era Potato Ridges in the Uggool Valley, County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
To make the land more productive English landlords turned the Irish off the land and replaced them with sheep. The potato ridges – and sheep- still remain in the Uggool Valley, County Mayo.

Carefully placed plaques show the location of visible landmarks- Diamond Hill and Kylemore Hill in Galway, Clare Island in the distant waters, Mweelrea Mountain to the east- all so near and yet nearly a world away from the remote valley.

Gerard Bourke shares the story of The Lost Valley in County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Gerard stands among the ruins of famine era cottages as he shares the story of the remote Uggool village.

Half way through the 5km walk you feel as though you've stepped back in time. Ruined famine cottages sit in the shade, overgrown by bracken and hazel trees. Undisturbed potato ridges lie fallow, no hint of life rising from them. A nearby mountain river falls over a picture perfect waterfall while sheep dot the valley below, their creamy wool beautiful against the many shades of green.

Mountain river and waterfall in County Mayo's Lost Valley. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Cool, clear water from the mountains falls over a waterfall near the Uggool village.

It's quite easy to get lost in the beauty even while hearing about the plight of the local cottagers.

Ruins of a famine era cottage in County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Pre-famine population of Uggool village was 89 people living in 17 houses. 48 famine survivors were evicted to make way for grazing sheep.

Your tour ends in the very cottage where Gerard's father, grandfather, and great grandfather were born. Maureen greets you with tea and shares tales of daily living in this lovingly restored famine cottage.

Restored famine era cottage in County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
The cottage Gerard's father, grandfather, and great grandfather were born & raised in. The stone building had 2 rooms.

Please note: prebooking is essential for a guided tour of The Lost Valley.

Find lodging in nearby Westport at Booking.com
OR
Find a County Mayo B&B
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Discover Ireland’s Lost Valley: the Uggool Valley in County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com

RTE's Ear to the Ground Visits The Lost Valley

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