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 Famine 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

The Best €20 I Ever Spent TripAdvisor Review

We are a party of 8 adults and teenagers. Having spent a week visiting the usual sites around Mayo- Croagh Patrick, Clare Island, Achill Island, and some of the many beautiful beaches- we were looking for something different to do on the last day. We came across The Lost Valley on TripAdvisor and thought it sounded interesting. It was, without a doubt, the highlight of our week in Mayo for both adults and teenagers alike. Not only did we see some of THE MOST STUNNING scenery of anywhere we have ever visited in Ireland, but the 3 hour guided tour around the area was absolutely top class. It covers a 4 km easy hike around a coastline steeped in famine history, and rich in geological anomalies. It’s worth the trek just to see the views of the fjord alone. Ger was a brilliant tour guide- funny, interesting and very knowledgeable. The teenagers were delighted feeding pet sheep from bottles, and we were dazzled by the sheepdog putting on a brilliant show rounding up the mountain sheep. The whole experience finished with complimentary tea and coffee in a renovated stone cottage. At €50 for 2 adults and 3 teenagers, we were more than impressed. We met other people on the tour who have been back several times and said it never gets old. We all agreed we would return if we are in the area again.


Date of Experience: August 2019