It’s known as the Emerald Isle, renowned for its green pastures. But delve deeper and you’ll find a rich tapestry of rugged limestone, formidable granite mountains and windswept sandstone. These diverse terrains are the stage for Ireland’s spectacular waterfalls, or “eas” as they’re known in Gaelic. In fact, there’s an astonishing variety of waterfalls in Ireland.
These cascades offer far more than just natural splendour. Their melodic torrents tell a story as ancient as the land itself, etched in the curves of the landscape and echoing in the gurgle and splash of the water. Lush vegetation thrives around them, while creatures great and small, drawn by the promise of life-sustaining water, offer a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of the region. Each waterfall has its unique charm, a testament to Ireland’s varied geography, and a journey through them is akin to a voyage through the country’s rich ecological and geological tapestry.
From towering plunges to charming cascades, we’ve rounded up some of the most awe-inspiring Irish waterfalls, making it that much “eas”-ier to discover them.
The grand 18th century Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry is a fitting home for one of the mightiest of the waterfalls of Ireland. Some know it as the Powerscourt Waterfall, others simply as Wicklow Waterfall, a reference to its location within County Wicklow. Whichever moniker it goes by, the sight of this 400-foot cataract is unforgettable. Indeed, Wicklow Waterfall has even added some drama on the big and small screen, being featured in blockbusters like Ella Enchanted and King Arthur and TV hits such as The Tudors and Vikings.
Such is the beauty of Glencar Waterfall that poet William Butler Yeats apparently immortalised it in verse, describing a place “Where the wandering water gushes, From the hills above Glen-Car.” One look at this 50-foot gossamer sheet of water freefalling through the trees and it’s easy to appreciate the source of his inspiration. Found in County Leitrim, this is indeed one of the most captivating waterfalls of Ireland.
Cutting through the rugged sandstone of the Comeragh Mountains near Waterford, Mahon Falls tumbles prettily down a series of tiers. Dropping a total of 260 feet, this cascade along the Mahon River takes a circuitous, meandering route. It involves steps and pools and dives, its character unfolding as it weaves an enchanting path, securing its place among the most picturesque waterfalls in Ireland.
The Devil’s Chimney
Straddling the counties of Sligo and Leitrim in northern Connacht is what is said to be the tallest of all Irish waterfalls. It goes by many names, the most tantalising of which is the Devil’s Chimney. And, for around 200 days of the year, this magnificent cataract plunges some 490 feet down the limestone cliffs of the Dartry Mountains. Its Irish name, Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird, means “stream against the height”, a reference to its waters often being blown upwards by southerly winds.
At 30 feet tall, Glenevin may not be the tallest of Ireland’s waterfalls, but it’s arguably among its most beloved. Certainly this serene sault is enhanced by its bucolic surroundings in the unspoilt forests of Clonmany in County Donegal.
Multifaceted, meandering and utterly untamed, Assaranca Waterfall reflects its remote surroundings. Located near the village of Ardara in County Donegal, this is truly on the wilder side of waterfalls in Ireland.
As the Owengarriff River traverses the foothills of Torc Mountain, it encounters a talus framed by lush greenery. Here it forms Easach Toirc, or ‘cascade of the wild boar’. Its height of 66 feet belies its true grandeur. For this, one of the longest waterfalls in Ireland, stretches across 360 feet in length across Killarney National Park.
Waterfalls of Ireland
From the dramatic spectacle of the Wicklow Waterfall to the lyrical lull of Glencar’s graceful plunge, the captivating world of Irish waterfalls teems with endless variety and boundless beauty.
But the allure of these waterfalls extends far beyond their visual appeal. They offer a profound connection to the country’s past, each one a living testament to Ireland’s rich geological history and natural heritage. Their timeless beauty, constantly reshaped by the elemental forces of water and gravity, inspire a sense of wonder and provide a remarkable perspective on the power and majesty of nature.
Furthermore, these cascades are set within some of the most stunning landscapes in Ireland. From the lush greenery of the Wicklow mountains to the rugged sandstone of the Comeragh range, each journey to these waterfalls is an adventure in itself, filled with scenic vistas and extraordinary wildlife. They provide the perfect backdrop for a range of outdoor pursuits, from hiking and bird-watching to photography and meditation.
In the end, a visit to these waterfalls is not merely about witnessing a natural spectacle; it’s about immersing oneself in a multi-sensory experience. The sound of the rushing water, the sight of the water plunging into the pool below, the feel of the cool mist, and the smell of the surrounding greenery all contribute to a unique and unforgettable encounter with the raw beauty of the Irish landscape.
So whether you’re a nature lover, an avid hiker, a curious tourist, or a local seeking to explore the hidden gems of your homeland, Ireland’s breathtaking waterfalls await you. They stand as enduring monuments to the country’s geological past and as vibrant ecosystems teeming with life. Your journey through Ireland’s “eas” will no doubt be filled with enchanting moments of discovery and a deepened appreciation for the fascinating interplay between the elements that shape the nation.