The stone used came from a local quarry about two miles away from the castle site and the stone was transported hand-to-hand by labourers for the distance of the two miles. The Chieftain responsible for the building became known as Dermot of the Powder as he accidentally blew himself up with gunpowder in 1549, just nine years after the building of the castle. Another interesting fact - the mortar used to hold the stones of the castle together was made up of a paste consisting of bulls blood!
Fifteen minutes further along this road we turned off and reached Gougane Barra.
I know I don't have the words to describe a place of such outstanding natural beauty. It's picture postcard Ireland. It was high on my Irish Bucket List because of St Finbarr's on the lake but I'd now have it as top of the list of most beautiful Irish places.
The minute we turned the last corner and I saw the lake I was in a hurry to check in to the hotel and get outside to explore. The name Gougane Barra comes from Saint Finbarr, who is said to have built a monastery on an island in the lake nearby during the 6th century. The present ruins (adjoining the little church) date from around 1700 when a priest, Denis O'Mahony retreated to the island. His tomb sits at the side of the road more or less opposite the causeway to the island on which the church stands.
Father O'Mahony's tomb
It's unusual for me to only take one photo inside a church. To be honest I felt quite overcome after being inside for a few minutes, touched by a reverence I rarely feel. I was so sure God was there I felt compelled to kneel and be still. I'm glad I took this one photo as I wasn't able to remember what it looked like, I was so impressed by how it felt.
In a courtyard to the left of the church entry are eight small circular cells and in these cells are plaster casts of the Stations of the Cross:
Next morning I was up bright and early, eager for more photos of the lake. This time I ventured up the road to the right of the hotel. The lake was still and there was a light mist hanging over the Derrynasaggart Mountains.
I would have loved to walk further but I was proud of the fact that I'd never kept the other passengers waiting at any of our stops and didn't intend to change that on my last morning. As I turned back to the hotel I noticed two of my fellow tour members out on the lake for a little exercise.
Even the public toilet near the causeway to the church has its own special place in these spectacular surroundings, winning the prize of top toilet in Ireland in 2002! I have another photo taken of a prizewinning toilet in Scotland, too. It's nothing compared to this one. Sorry, Scotland.