The enormous power of the mass of falling water had observers transfixed. The thunderous crashing sound had them speechless. The few who spoke could not be heard. The wildly gyrating white mass looked nothing like water.
That was the experience of Torc Waterfall after the relentless heavy rain over 36 hours. If I had been there some hours earlier the spray from the cascade would have showered the onlookers.
You need to get there while the rain is still falling. Perhaps just immediately after it has stopped. Rain gear makes it possible to fully enjoy the experience.
Torc, as well as the other cascades – O’Sullivan’s, Derrycunnihy and Tower Wood are all within striking distance of our holiday home at Gallan Eile.
And the stories.
It was said there was treasure hidden at the back of the falls at Torc and that one of the Herberts spent a lot of money trying, unsuccessfully, to find it.
It is easy to imagine the great chieftain O’Sullivan spending a day chasing a great stag that turned out to have special powers. While he was resting he was suddenly accosted by Fionn Mac Cumhail who accused him of hunting his special stag. But Fionn relented and taking pity on O’Sullivan struck the ground and a spring began to flow with whiskey. That was how O’Sullivan’s Cascade started. But the liquid turned to water when the first Sassenachs** arrived.
Climb to the top of the Tower Woods Falls and see how the stream runs parallel to the top of the falls, like a millrace.
Even on warm, calm, dry days the waterfalls are special places. Imagine Queen Victoria sitting in front of her royal tent looking at the Derrycunnihy Cascade on her visit to Killarney in 1861. The scene was idyllic, except, the queen later recorded in her journal, she was eaten by the midges.
The surrounds of the waterfalls have micro climates. These were the places to find Killarney fern, champion trees, lush carpets of mosses. The immediate surrounds of the falls are cool on sultry summer days. On humid, calm days there are rich aromas from the wood.
It is little wonder that the romantic poets were inspired. Tennyson famously wrote of Ross Castle, the evening sun on Lough Leane and thunderous sounds from O’Sullivan’s Cascade
The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
– Frank Lewis
(Note: ** ‘Sassenachs’ – English
Sorry for the delay this week.