Churches in Ireland are splendid structures and many hidden gems can be found outside of Ireland’s major cities. The church at Gougane Barra is a perfect example.

Located at the banks of Kenmare Bay, 35 miles south of Cork, this church is one of the most famous Catholic churches in Ireland. Constructed in the early 18th century, over the years its remote location has attracted thousands to celebrate Catholic Mass. The church and its surroundings are famous for its natural beauty.

Gougane Barra is one of the most unique and special places in all of County Cork due to its incredibly beautiful setting in an ancient glacial valley hidden in the remote hillsides of West Cork. This tiny church sits on the side of a lake with lush forests and is surrounded by hillsides.

The name ‘Barra’ comes from Saint Finbarr, the patron saint of Cork who is said to have built a monastery on an island in the lake during the sixth century. The name in Irish is Guagán Barra, meaning ‘the rock of Barra.’

The present structure dates back to 1700, when a priest, Denis O’Mahony, retreated to the island. It was then that Gougane Barra’s remoteness became a popular place for the celebration of the Roman Catholic Mass.

The 19th-century oratory that stands near the original monastery is famous for its picturesque location and richly decorated interior. St. Finbarr’s Oratory is the final destination for one of the five Pilgrim Paths of Ireland, St. Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path.

The church looks as beautiful close up as it does from the road. It’s a tiny church with only four small pews on either side, but it’s a beautiful place with stained glass windows and intricate stone carvings.

The beauty of the church has made it such a popular wedding destination that the waiting list to be married in the Gougane Barra is yearslong. Despite being entirely open to the public, it is, in fact, a very special and holy place with great significance to the people of Cork County.

For more information, visit http://www.gouganebarra.com/.