Welcome to West Cork -St. Finbarrs Oratory (Gougane Barra)

Welcome to West Cork -St. Finbarrs Oratory (Gougane Barra)

St. Finbarrs Oratory (Gougane Barra)

The latest edition of our 'Welcome to Lee Valley' series brings us to St. Finbarr's Oratory, probably the smallest church in Ireland and easily in the most beautiful location on the edge of Gougane Barra forest park.

St Finbarr

St. Finbarr (the patron saint of Cork) founded his most important monastery at the island in the lake at Gougane Barra during the sixth century.  He is said to have spent much time in isolation in this serene and peaceful place.  There are many myths and legends which surround the story of St Finbarr, including one where is led by an Angel from the source of the River Lee at Gougane Barra to it's marshy mouth, where he founded the city of Cork. There is also rumour that St Finbarr banished the great Serpant Lu from the Gougane Barra Lake and in doing so Lu created the channel now known as the River Lee!



The current oratory or church which stands on the island dates back to 1903.  Featuring stunning stained glass windows, coursed limestone walls with concrete quoins and a rounded wooden entrance.  The inside has an elegant barrel vaulted ceiling and a freestanding alter.  The church is set close to the remains of the monastery built by a priest called Denis O Mahony who retreated to the island and built this monastery in honour of St. Finbarr.  There are a number of cell structures and a cross which make up the ruins of this historic place.  It is said that one of these cells belonged to St Finbarr, however there is no certainty to this claim.


Visit Gougane Barra

Today the oratory is renowned for wedding ceremonies.  Many couples are transfixed by the beauty of the area and it's unique setting.  Tourists also travel from far and wide to view the tiny church on it's island and the forest park that surrounds it.  Aside from this, the legacy of St Finbarr still lives on as many people make the pilgrimmage along St Finbarr's Path to commemerate the much loved saint of Cork. 
It is most definitely a place to visit in Ireland if you are planning a trip here and if you have time, our wonderful Lee Valley Ireland Signature Store is only a short distance away where you are sure to get a friendly welcome!    
 St Finbarrs Oratory gougane barra Map
 Map of the The Lee Valley, Ireland (Arrow Shows Location of St Finbarrs Oratory, Gougane Barra)
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