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The Lost Valley In Mayo: A Guide To One Of ‘Hidden Ireland’s’ Top Attractions

The Lost Valley In Mayo: A Guide To One Of ‘Hidden Ireland’s’ Top Attractions

I’d argue that the Lost Valley is one of the most unique places to visit in Mayo.

The Lost Valley is an incredible place of rugged natural beauty, historic importance, and cultural appreciation and, while words alone don’t do it justice, we’ll give it a good go!

It’s an amazing place to visit for an eye-opening experience in which you’ll learn about Ireland’s past, the harsh realities of the Great Famine, and the ways of the world in one of Ireland’s most rural areas.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from the Lost Valley Tour and what to expect from a visit to things to see nearby.

Some Quick Need To Knows about The Lost Valley in Mayo

Lost Valley County Mayo

Photo via the Lost Valley

A visit to the Lost Valley in Mayo isn’t as straightforward as some of the county’s other attractions, as it’s set on private land. Here are some need-to-knows:

1. Location

The Lost Valley is situated beyond the end of the road, in a land that time forgot. Amid picturesque scenery, it’s near to Silver Strand Beach. If you’re traveling from Westport, head along the R335 to Louisborough. Join the A378 and follow it to the end of the road. You’ll see signs to the Lost Valley just as you reach Silver Strand.

2. Unparalleled beauty

Tamed by the Atlantic Ocean, the area around the Lost Valley is absolutely stunning in its ruggedness. Rolling green fields, sandy beaches, craggy coves, and lush waterfalls abound, all to a backdrop of looming mountains. Stone ruins dot the landscape, a stark reminder that in the end, nature conquers all.

3. The private tour

The best way to discover the Lost Valley is on one of the 3-hour guided tours. Run by the Bourke family, the tour takes you on various trails as your guide recounts the history of the valley, and the hardships its people faced in the past. With occasional poetry and a good dose of Irish humour, it’s an incredible way to learn more about the Great Famine and life in rural Ireland. 

4. Price

At the time of typing, tickets cost:

  • Adults: €25
  • Children: €10
  • Family Ticket: €60

About The Lost Valley and the story of the Bourkes

Aeiral shot of the Lost Valley

Photo via the Lost Valley

The Lost Valley is a must-see, and a real eye-opening experience. Situated amid breathtaking natural scenery, the area takes in woodlands, beaches, coves, mountains, lakes, rivers, fjords, and even waterfalls.

A visit to the deserted village provides a cultural insight into the struggles faced by the hardy people who once called the valley home.

The Bourke Family

Though once abandoned, as communities were forced out by the great famine, the valley is now cared for once again.

In fact, the Bourke family have been farming livestock in the valley for more than 300 hundred years. Nowadays, they run a working farm on the site, and offer a glimpse into the daily life of a rural farmer in Western Ireland.

They also provide tours of the area, delving into the history of the land and its tough people. Join them as they feed the lambs, train the sheepdogs, and tend to hardy crops.

Things you’ll see on the Lost Valley tour

Photos via the Lost Valley

As a working farm, it’s essential to book your visit to the Lost Valley in advance and join the Bourke family on a guided tour.

This way, the pristine nature is best preserved, and the sensitive ecosystem remains protected. Both group and individual bookings are accepted. Here’s what you can expect to discover on the awe-inspiring 3-hour tour.

1. Silver Strand Beach


Classified as one of the finest beaches in Mayo, the Lost Valley tour will take you to Silver Strand Beach on the northern border of the Valley. The location for many movie and advertising shoots, it’s an incredible sandy beach, with craggy rocks, and beautiful blue waters.

2. Mweelrea mountain

Mweelrea Mountain in Mayo

Photo by Christian McLeod Photography via Ireland’s Content Pool

Heading east, you’ll come across the immense Mweelrea Mountain, the tallest in Western Ireland. The name comes from the Gaelic Maol Ri, which translates to ‘the bald king’. It makes an impressive backdrop, and it’s rocks tell many tales of the Doolough Pass, the site of another tragedy brought about by the famine.

3. Killary Fjord

Photo by Kit Leong (Shutterstock)

The southern border of the Lost Valley is made up of Ireland’s only Fjord, Killary. Creeping 16 km (10 miles) inland, the fjord offers breathtaking views, seeing it classed as one of the top 10 most spectacular in Europe. There’s a harbour in the Fjord, and it’s possible to take boat trips on the tranquil waters.

4. Flora galore

Photos via the Lost Valley

The lost valley is awash with hardy plant life, doing battle with the harsh conditions to retain a grip on the land. Old apple trees survive in the abandoned village, while woodlands are slowly becoming established, gradually swallowing up the old houses.

Hazel, oak, ash, silver birch, and rowan trees are all braving the elements, while bracken and wild flowers cover the ground. Foragers would have a field day, with wild mint, wood sorrel, mountain thyme, bog myrtle, and much more growing across the landscape.

5. The deserted village

The deserted village stands in memorial to the victims of the great famine. Abandoned in around 1850 as the famine ended, many of the surviving residents were cruelly evicted. The old cottages and farms remain as they were left, with acres of potato ridges untouched for more than 200 years.

The village was called Uggool, which translates to the Eagle’s Egg. Wandering through the ruins takes you back in time, offering a glimpse at life from another era, while the crushing silence of the area serves to remind that all things will change.

Things to do near the Lost Valley

After enjoying the amazing Lost Valley, you’ll have plenty of time to check out some other things to do nearby. Here are our top tips.

1. Doolough Valley

doo lough valley

Photo by RR Photo on Shutterstock

A drive through the Doolough Valley is absolutely spectacular. Starting in Louisburg, the road passes through incredible landscapes that take in rugged mountains, glistening lakes, and gushing rivers. The road ends at Leenane, on the banks of Killary Fjord. Here’s a guide to the Louisburgh to Leenane drive.

2. Islands

Photos by Maria_Janus (Shutterstock)

You’ll find Roonagh Pier just under 30 minutes from the Lost Valley, and it’s from here that you can grab a ferry to Inishturk Island and Clare Island, both of which are well-worth exploring on a day trip or over the course of a weekend.

3. Croagh Patrick

croagh patrick hike

Photo via Anna Efremova

Croagh Patrick is a fantastic mountain to climb, offering incredible views across County Mayo and Clew Bay. The views you’re treated to on a clear day are out of this world. You can also visit nearby Westport, too. Here are some guides to drop into:

FAQs about visiting the Lost Valley in Mayo

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what is there to do at the Lost Valley to how the tour works.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is the Lost Valley worth visiting?

Yes – the area around the Lost Valley is absolutely stunning in its ruggedness and it’s a joy to explore.

What does the Lost Valley tour involve?

This is a 3-hour guided tour that takes you on various trails as your guide recounts the history of the valley, and the hardships its people faced in the past. 

How much does the Lost Valley tour cost?

The tour cost is priced as follows: Adults: €20 Children: €10 and a Family Ticket: €50.

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