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 date from around 1700 when Fr. Denis O' Mahony retreated to the Isalnd. During the times of the Penal Laws, Gougane Barra's remoteness meant that it became a popular place for the celebration of the Roman Catholic mass.
The area around Gougane Barra is now home to a 1.42 square kilometre Forest Park, which is home to a number of mammal and bird species. Gougane Barra boasts breathtaking scenery and its natural beauty makes this peaceful valley a truly stunning location.