Uggool Sands: The struggle for accessibility and safety

Located in the heart of The Lost Valley, over one and a half miles from the nearest public road is a very impressive looking extensive beach area, magnificent to look at, but quiet dangerous for the unwary. Some sections can be liable to significant quicksand, and high tides come in at the back of the beach cutting of retreat and then proceed to cover the entire area. Powerful tidal currents at the mouth of the fjord often result in strong rip currents at the beach. Benign tidal conditions change dramatically without warning especially during high tides and as such the beach is unsafe for bathing.

silver strand and uggool beach


An Irish Water Safety, risk assessment report concluded that, ‘‘Uggool Beach is a dangerous beach”. The Safety Assessors also concluded that the route into the valley was “fraught with hazards and risks”, and that, “the idea of gaining access to the beach via the headland is a non runner due to the many dangers involved”.


Indeed the Bourke family who despite their familiarity with the area have on many occasions been lucky not to lose their lives trying to access their valley, were well aware of these inherent dangers, magnified under winter conditions.


On one memorable occasion they took Court action against the Irish Land Commission to try to get them to help. The

Land Commission claimed in court, that the cost of an access roadway was such that a reasonable contribution to it would be beyond their means and “it would be cheaper buy a Helicopter”.


A report in the Sunday Independent newspaper (January, 1971) 48 years ago, gives some indication of their plight, but unfortunately no assistance what-so-ever resulted.


Download a copy of the article here



Today thanks entirely to their own efforts, there is a safe convenient access to The Lost Valley. Down through the ages men have lusted after priceless gems and The Lost Valley is a rare jewel indeed. Immediately upon completion of the roadway the Bourke’s were confronted with unimaginable claims of right of access, organized by a national hill-walking organization based in Dublin.


This group conducted a campaign of false allegations and rumour repeated and multiplied for over 25 years. Their complaints have gotten absolutely nowhere but they did involve the Ombudsman who included in his annual report an account of what he refers to as “a three-year investigation into the Uggool issue”.


At no time during this investigation were the Bourke family contacted or their views or explanations sought on the issue. When they contacted the Ombudsman’s office to enquire into the basis for his findings, no justification was provided. They were not permitted to meet the Ombudsman or any of his staff, nor has the office corrected the record and as a result this totally flawed report is still being used to justify slander. Letter's to the Mayo News newspaper (June 21, 2000) following the publication of the Ombudsman’s report, reflect local community feeling.


Download a copy of the article here


The campaign of intimidation continued. This report by well known columnist Brenda Power in The Sunday Tribune newspaper (22-12-02) gives an overview of events. Download a copy of the article here


The Bourke Family opened ‘The Lost Valley’ to the public in June of 2015 as a unique, totally authentic visitor experience and are committed to providing the highest standards of service and experience to each and every one of their guests.

uggool sands beach