While Ireland might not be home to massive waterfalls and cascades like Niagara Falls or Victoria Falls, the Emerald Isle does have several stunning waterfalls of our own that we thought we’d share with you.
Ireland is well-known for its emerald hills, made ever greener by plenty of rain. Most visitors to Ireland are crossing their fingers for dry and sunny weather. But sometimes, the rain is what makes it such a special place. If you want to view Ireland’s waterfalls, the best time to do so is actually just after a rainstorm, when the waterfall’s outpouring is at its most impressive.
Some more popular than others, they are all beautiful and inspiring places to see in person. Scroll down or navigate the list below.
“Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.”
| William Butler Yeats – The Stolen Child |
It’s only fair to start with Ireland’s tallest cascade. Falling 121 meters or 397 feet, Powerscourt Waterfall is a beautiful place located in Glensoulan Valley along the River Dargle on the Powerscourt Estate. Under the shadow of Djouce peak, this horse-tail fan waterfall is picture-perfect. Powerscourt Estate itself is a very pretty place – a majestic manor dating from 1731 surrounded by award-winning gardens.
Located very close to the Wicklow Way, Powerscourt Estate makes for a lovely stop. Visitors to the estate can walk up to the waterfall, and another way to see it is from Ride Rock in Crone Woods, along the trail to summit of Maulin Hill. After seeing the falls and exploring the gardens, warm up with a cup of tea inside the house. Learn more about Wicklow here.
Cast your eyes on this amazing site on our hiking trip of the Wicklow Way (or try it self guided).
From one of the best-known falls to one of Ireland’s least known, Asaranca Waterfall is located deep on Donegal’s Glencolmcille Peninsula. County Donegal is nicknamed “Ireland’s Forgotten County” but it was also voted as the world’s coolest place by National Geographic – combined, that should tell you all you need to know!
This northwestern region of Ireland is a wild and rugged and remote place, in some ways cut off from the rest of the country. From Slieve League cliffs to Malin Head to Asaranca Waterfall, Donegal is the outdoor lover’s paradise.
Asaranca Falls themselves are located near the quaint village of Ardara and are actually nicer on a rainy day. Not to be missed is the local beach and the stunning Maghera Caves just 1km beyond the falls themselves. This area – and Donegal is general – is perfect for cycling as the roads are quiet, the views are scenic, and there are enough pit stops along the way to refuel and stretch the legs.
Curious about Donegal? Learn more about it here.
Visit the waterfall and wild landscapes of northwestern Ireland yourself on our bike tour of Donegal.
Staying in Donegal for a moment, we travel north to Glenveagh National Park, to find Astelleen Burn Waterfall tucked deep inside the park. Beyond the reach of the manicured paths of Glenveagh Castle, the waters of Astelleen Burn fall through remote mountains and require a pair of sturdy hiking boots to visit. But Glenveagh is certainly worth the visit – the falls, the park, the wildlife, the lake, the mountains all equate to an outdoor lover’s paradise. Afterwards, head back to the castle for cake and tea.
Curious about Glenveagh National Park? Read our guide to the park here.
Hike through Glenveagh National Park and other stunning landscapes in the north of Ireland yourself on our hiking tour of Donegal.
Leaving the half-forgotten reaches of northern Donegal, we head south to the ever-popular Killarney National Park in Co Kerry to Tor Waterfall, one of Ireland’s most visited falls.
Torc Waterfall is fairly accessible – it’s pretty easy to visit the falls themselves. We recommend the hike through the park to arrive at Tor, but another option is to take a jarvey (horse and cart popular throughout the park).
Torc Waterfall is actually part of the Kerry Way, a 213-km length trail that meanders through Kerry. If this is too large a commitment, why not just do the first section? After feasting your eyes on the falls, do the 6km hike that heads up into Torc Mountain beyond the waterfall – expect lush woodland, great views and the best part is you’ll leave the crowds behind at the foot of the falls.
Afterwards, as always, there are plenty of opportunities for well-deserved tea, cakes or even pints back in Killarney town.
Visit Tor Waterfall and Kerry on our Deluxe hiking tour of Kerry.
Get two for one! On the Sligo/Leitrim border, there are two waterfalls very close to each other. First up is the Devil’s Chimney, so named for the smoke and steam caused by the crash of the waves, and the fact that in high winds, the water is blown back upwards like a chimney. Though you can just spot it from the road, we recommend doing the short hike hike that meanders the quiet forest paths and brings you close to the falls. Though always pretty, the Devil’s Chimney is best seen after a rainstorm as not much water falls if the weather has been too dry.
Just up the lane from the Devil’s Chimney is beloved Glencar Waterfall. Once again, Glencar is quite accessible – it is located just off the road, and up a short path. Glencar is famous for its literary connections – Irish national poet W.B. Yeats was from Sligo and wrote a poem in which Glencar featured.
The beautiful cascade at Glencar is actually just the bottom of the falls – for anyone brave enough to hike off-trail into the woods above the “top” of the waterfall, you’ll discover just how huge this waterfall actually is!
Regardless, Glencar is very picturesque and a well-recommended stop. We heartily encourage tea, cakes and sandwiches at the lovely tea house next door. It’s also a nice opportunity to pick up some unique souvenirs as several local artisan crafts are available here.
Interested in hearing more about Sligo? Read more here.
Visit Glencar and the Devil’s Chimney yourself on our self guided bike tour of Sligo.
These very pretty falls are located in a small forest park deep in County Fermanagh. Visitors to the Belmore Forest Park will come upon the turn for the cave and the falls in the first kilometre of the hike. Walk down a short embankment before coming face-to-face with the fern-covered mystical Pollnagollum Cave and the waterfall falling 12 metres over the edge of the massive limestone boulder. Best seen after heavy rains, wisps of water stream down over the cliff and into the cave, flowing nearly 2km underground before resurfacing in a local river.
The rest of the 7km looped walk wanders through forests, hills and the Coolarkan Quarry, opening up to splendid views of Belmore Mountain and the Boho cave region.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you might even recognise this palace – Pollnagollum Cave was the filming location for Beric Dondorian’s hideout.
Read more about Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland here.
High up in the Comeragh Mountains of County Waterford, find the picturesque Mahon Falls. While a popular hiking spot within Ireland, the Comeragh Mountains are rarely visited by international visitors. Within the mountains, a short distance from the famed corrie lake, Coumshingaun, is the 80 metres high Mahon Falls. Formed by the River Mahon, streams of water cascades from the Comeragh Plateau down across the sandstone cliffs to the rocks below. As with most of the other waterfalls on this list, Mahon Falls are particularly spectacular to see just after heavy rainfall.
The falls are very accessible, just a short 1.5 km trail from the car park, unlike the more challenging walk around Coumshingaun. However, it’s possible to combine the two by ascending the cliffs and walking across the plateau of the Comeraghs to Coumshingaun lake. (Learn more here).
While not currently on any of our trips, you can always have a look at our private, custom and tailor made tours.
Well into the northern reaches of County Antrim, find the beautiful Glenariff Forest, home to the spectacular Glenariff Waterfall. To get here, hike through a rich forest environment, before passing through a stunning gorge, where conditions are ideal for lush greenery such as ferns, moss and liverwort, giving the whole walk a mystical feel.
At the bottom of the steep descent, you’ll come face-to-face with the park’s beautiful waterfalls cascading down hills and over cliffs framed by vibrant woodland before falling into the pool below. The loop is fairly short, just about 3km, and while it can be steep, there are boardwalks much of the way.
Want to explore Northern Ireland and perhaps visit these falls yourself? Check out our Self Drive along the Causeway Coast and Donegal, which offers a degree of flexibility to travel at your own pace and add in optional extras such as a detour to view this stunning waterfall.
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Hungry Hill is the highest peak in Cork and Kerry’s Caha Mountains, coming in at 685 metres. At the top of this mountain, find the Mare’s Tail, the highest waterfall in Ireland. Starting from the lakes of Coomadavallig and Coomarkane and flowing through the Coomgira Valley, the waters eventually empty out into Adrigole harbour.
Unlike many of the other waterfalls on this list, the Mare’s Tail is not as easily accessible. It will require a 3-hour hike over steep and uneven terrain. If you don’t mind not getting up close to the falls, there is an easier option though – enjoy a lovely view of the waterfall at the foot of the hill.
This is all part of the Beara Way, a route that encompasses the best of the Beara Peninsula. At 138km long, it can be tough going, but it is a strong competitor for the best bike ride in Ireland.
If you’re biking the route and you want to visit the falls, you’ll have to leave the bike behind and set off into the hills on foot. Cyclists, don’t miss the impressive Healy Pass, just 10 km away.
Bike the Beara Peninsula and more of the rugged southwest on our small group trip, the Kerry Peninsulas.
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Still down in the southwest, on the other side of the Beara Peninsula find the long, narrow ribbons of Gleninchaquin Waterfall, located in Gleninchaquin Park not far from the picturesque town of Kenmare.
Tucked into the centre of the park, Gleninchaquin Waterfall is the jewel in the crown of this beautiful place. Falling 140 metres, Gleninchaquin Waterfall has the good fortune to cascade dramatically down the cliff both rain or shine, which as we’ve seen on this list, isn’t always a guarantee! (Though it is nicer after rainfall…).
There is a short 4km long trail with the option to extend it further that takes in a pretty lake, some great views of the surrounding open countryside and farmlands, and of course the waterfall. Note that there is a charge for the car park.
Gleninchaquin Park and waterfall is an option when visiting Beara Peninsula on our self-drive of the southwest Cork and Kerry.
Jul 26, 2021
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