The Bourke Family

The Bourke (Burke, DeBurca) family have owned and farmed the Lost Valley for over a century. 


Before that they were employed by the landlord to farm in the valley and before that they were actually one of the families evicted and driven out, as the roofs of their homes were torn down as the Great Hunger ended. In fact the Bourke family have lived and farmed livestock here for over three centuries. It is part of who they are, part of their identity and their D N A is very much part of the Valley.   

stone cottage lost valley uggool

Seven generations of Bourke's brings us back to when records began, their predecessors are now lost in the mists of time.

bourke family

The present owners Gerard and Maureen Bourke and their family - pictured above - became the first to enjoy safe, convenient access to their home in the valley, when in 1989 they built a roadway over the mountainside. Many previous generations of the family had traversed the mountainside on foot to gain access to their valley or taken a dangerous route through the foreshore when the tide was out.

mweelrea mountain

No doubt this inaccessibility contributed in a major way to the preservation of the heritage of the lost valley of Uggool as only the most intrepid visitors ventured in and indeed very many of the locals will tell you today that they had never seen the lost valley previously.


Having completed the roadway the family turned their attention to the creation of a looped walkway around their spectacular valley.

Traditionally the Bourke's have farmed sheep and suckler cows that run with a stock bull and a couple of horses. Today sheep are the main enterprise with a flock which are mainly of the native blackface mountain breed. Ewes lamb in April and most of the Lambs are sold with the weanling cattle in Sept or Oct.


Cattle and horses are removed from the trail area to a different section of the farm when the trail is in use, as a health and safety measure. 

irish sheep farming

Fantastic!! TripAdvisor Review

The Lost Valley experience far exceeded our expectations and turned out to be the highlight of our trip to Mayo. From the walk through the unspoiled, natural landscape with spectacular views, to the fantastic & passionate narration by Gerard, you really got a sense of what it must have been like to live there through that terrible time. To cap it all Gerard, Maureen and their daughter were superb hosts. Their relaxed style brings it all together. You do not have to be a history buff to enjoy this experience.


Date of Experience: July 2020


Highly recommend this tour TripAdvisor Review


What a treat this turned out to be. Heavenly scenery, historical insights and a fantastic chronology of famine era events. I learned a lot and enjoyed the lost valley tour with our guide Gerry. This tour is right up there with the best and has something for everyone. My kids loved exploring the valley, feeding the lambs and watching the sheep dog in action. I loved the folklore, the flora and fauna presentation and poem recitations. Highly recommend this tour.


Date of experience: July 2021