Guagan Barra Forest Park


7 km south west of Ballingeary, off the R584.

Site Description

The name Guagán Barra means 'Rock cleft of St. Finbar'. St Finbarr built his monastery on the lake island in the 6th century. There is an Oratory on the island close to the entrance of the Forest Park which is to this day a major site of worship.
The park is located in the townland of Coomroe or Com Rua which means a red Coum or hollow. It is easy to see where the name comes from for on entering the valley one is overawed by the sheer walls of Old Red Sandstone rock which rise some 370 meters from the valley bottom. Acquired for afforestation in 1938, it was gradually planted over the next 4 years. Plantings were largely of Sitka spruce, Lodgepole pine, Japanese larch and some Scots pine. Having reached maturity some of these areas have been harvested and restocked with a wider variety of species. However, one of the finest stands of Sitka spruce in the country still exists in the valley bottom with trees reaching 38 meters high and carrying a volume of up to 3 cubic meters each.
Guagán Barra was developed as a forest park in the early 60's and was officially opened in 1966. It is unique in having a looped motor trail of almost 5 km with spectacular views of the deep valley and its walled sides. Walking in Guagán is an energetic undertaking but one can be assured that it is a rewarding experience. There are 6 different trails to whet the appetite of the walking enthusiast. These are of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. Each one has its own story to tell and show off the spectacular panoramas of mountain, valley, stream and lake.
The park and surrounding countryside boasts a rich diversity of plant, animal and bird life. Ling heather and Moor grasses are abundant on the slopes while rock faces are sometimes covered with Mosses, Lichens and primitive plants. A rare plant called Fox's Cabbage is to be found on rock faces near to mountain streams. This plant is one of the Hiberno-Lusitanian group whose distribution in Ireland is confined to small areas in the south west.
Guagán is a place for all seasons. See it in the spring when the red tint of the larch lights up the grey autumnal landscape, or when winter hangs its icy stalactites from the cliffs below Maolach, or when evening sky casts its long shadows over the mountains. Above all experience it in the rain when "In deep valley'd Desmond a thousand wild fountains come down to that lake from their home in the mountains".

These lines are taken from a poem on Guagán by J.J. Calanan who died in Lisbon in 1829.

There is a pay barrier at this Forest Park.

Parking Fee: €5.00 Per Car (Coins Only)
Annual Access Card €40.00

The Annual Access Card is valid for all Forest Parks listed on our website To Purchase Or New Your Annual Access Card Click Here

To prevent theft - Please ensure not to leave valuables on display in your vehicle.
Please keep dogs on leads at all times.

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Guagan Barra Forest Park Features

Access for all, Picnic Site, Forest Park, Walking Trails, Car Parking,

How do I get there?

From Ballingeary,  travel 7 km on the R584 to Guagán crossroads, take a right and travel past the Oratory and Gougane Barra lake  to the park entrance. From Bantry take the N71 to Ballylickey, turn right travel 25km to Guagán crossroads, take a left, travel past the lake and Oratory to the park.

Get directions to this site


No of car spaces:45
Car park opens:September 7.00am October - March 8.00am
Car park closes:September 9.00pm October - March 5.00pm
Parking fee price:Please See Below
Parking options:Parking Fee
map legend

Contact Info

Contact name:Liam O' Regan