John Windele was a well known historian who lived in Cork City during the early 19th Century. This describes in his own words, his visit to Gougane Barra in 1850.
To Gougaun Barra Oct. 4th.-5th. 1850
With Captain Leonard and Tom M. O'Sullivan, slept at Macroom, left at 10 o clock. Gourha a natural wood, the trees never attain any height. A great retreat of wild life. Milleen or Hedgefield - Richard O'Leary. This is the best family of the O'Learys in Iveleary. Kilbarry becoming ruinous, Old Barry (John E Barretts, grandfather) was a vigorous anatagonist of Whiteboyism. The Iveleary an excellent road but amazingly and I think unnecessarily sinuous. Traces of natural woods evident in many places along the line. Visited Carrignacurra Castle and ascended to the Battlements. A mural (circular) staircase at N. W. angle, the building roofed, but roof in bad repair. The chambers extremely dark. Many of the windows walled up. The interior arched. The Bower room quite plain and unornamented. No mantelpiece in the great capacious fire place, whether ever? Gone at all events. S.E. angle of the Castle has one of those strange projecting spurs as at Mashanaglass Castle. It is perforated with slit or shot holes.
A statement made by Mr. Browne, some time since to me that there was in the Glebe garden an inscribed stone made me inquire there, but I could get no account of it.
The Inchagula lakes are beautiful objects even treeless as they are. There is one headland planted and the effect is excellent. The sheets of water are very extensive. Well wooded this would make enchanting country.
Arrived at Ballingeary, stopped for lunch at Shortens public house. We passed through a considerable portion of Keimaneigh. The passes magnificent. Its stream was in great flow, some of the fallen masses of rock that lie beside or bridge the rivulet are enormous. For the first time I saw Gougaun without sunshine. It was in the full gloom and sublimity of a raging tempest. The Lake was lashed in billows crested with foam and we found it extremely difficult to keep on our legs. In the Cells we found some female penitents from near Bantry saving their souls. At the Well we found others at prayer. The wooden cross was back.
Since I was last there the island had been tilled. Two large trees were uprooted and now lay prostrate. The memorable 'Cluish a cuinne' anglicised 'Bed of honor' was pointed out to me. It is a green bank on the N. W. angle of the Caishiol or square of the Cells, selected because the persons on it could see from every side. Here married pairs, whose marriage has not been fruitful, blessed with issue repair, and the night spent beside the Hawthorn which grows on it results in fruitfullness. Several instances of the good effects of this bed are mentioned.
Father O Mahony's tomb - on the slab there are only a few letters left at the foot, the word Dionysius, is the only word I could make out. Where the water quits the Lake this is the Emissary. It was just dark as we returned to Inchagula, half past 6. Whilst the horse was feeding we stopped at a little public house, and heard two Irish songs sung. The manner of drawing out the notes to their utmost length and twisting some of the passages is curiously odd. One of the songs breathed a fevrious spirit of hostility against the foe by the Clan na Gael. Pikes and bullets were to be remorsely used in the extirpation and distruction of the hated race. We reached Macroom at 2. Omitted to say that the Congregation of Macroom Chapel is divided, the males at one side, the females at another.