The Lee Valley


The river Lee rises in the Derrynasaggart Mountains above Gougane Barra (Loch an Tuatáin, 525m) and flows eastwards for 80km to where it meets the sea in Cork. The Lee is joined by many tributaries including the Sullane at Macroom which make up the 1600sqkm Lee Valley.

The small stream rises in the high ground above Gougane Barra and falls “in a thousand wild fountains” into the forest park and into the corrie lake in Gougane Barra, Lough Irce where you can find the holy island of St. Finbarr. Legend has it that St. Finbarr fought and expelled a great serpent known as ‘Lú’ out of this lake which formed the channel that is now the river Lee. The lake is considered as having sacred waters and pilgrims brought their cows here in times past to bathe in the curative waters.

The river flows quickly from here past the Gaeltacht village of Beal Átha an Ghaorthaidh and into the lake of Lough Allua (where Lú sleeps). It gains its river form again at Inchigeelagh and flows steadily until it meets the ‘The Gearagh’ near Macroom. The Gearagh is the remains of the only post glacial Alluvial forest in Western Europe, and is now a rich wildlife preserve.
The Lee valley has 2 hydro electric schemes, these man made lakes are new wildlife sanctuaries and popular with water sports and fishing enthusiasts.
We can organise waterskiing lessons for you on the dam if you would like to give it a go...please ask us

The river regains its normal size after the dam in Inniscarra, and lazily flows past Ballincollig and into Cork city where it divides into two channels for a short time before meeting the sea at Cork Harbour.

“I have swam in the holy waters of the River Lee and I have been set free.”
John Spillane, songwriter and singer 2009

Suggestions on Where to Go;

Gougane Barra in the rain is ‘a must,’ to see the many waterfalls that flow from the top of the mountains into this lake.
See J.J. Callanan in the Literary section.

Go fishing in Lough Allua and the reservoirs of Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra for great coarse fishing especially pike and bream.

Cycle the Lee Valley from Cork to Gougane Barra on a marked cycle route.

Horse riding at Lee Valley Equestrian Centre

Visit the Market town of Macroom,especially on Tuesday (situated half way between Cork and Killarney) and see Macroom Castle once owned by Sir William Penn founder of the State of Pennsylvania!

Make toy soldiers in the Prince August Toy soldier factory in Killnamartra, a great day out. Prince August is Ireland’s only Toy Soldier Factory, and has an impressive display of pewter pieces which include, toy soldiers, chess sets, Irish Historical miniatures and Lord of the Rings figurines.
Why not organise a one to one, private painting workshops minimum 3 children/adults per working class.

Do a day trip to Blarney Castle, near Cork city and kiss the Blarney stone to get the ‘gift of the gab.’- we did

Walkabout in Cork city and visit St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, The Glucksman Gallery in UCC, the Butter market, ring the bells in Shandon, Art in the Crawford Gallery,or a walking trip of Cobh and a trip to the Titanic exhibition, all in a days trip from Gougane.

Go waterskiing in Carrigadrohid, kayak in the city, birdwatch in the Gearagh, sail in the harbour, go bowling in the city….the list goes on.

Shop till you drop in the friendly city of Cork with all the top brands available.

Sample some of the many speciality foods this valley has to offer in great locations like the English Market and many great restaurants and cafés- we love Cafe Idaho in Cork, out the back door of Brown Thomas, best coffee and chocolate cake in the city. Say hi to Mairead and Richard who will look after you very well.