With parts of Ireland experiencing more than 225 days of rain a year, it is no wonder that the Emerald Isle has an incredible amount of greenery as well as an amazing amount of water. Some counties, like overlooked County Cavan, have so many lakes that you could visit a new one every day for a year. Other places, like Dublin, are shaped by the rivers which pass through them.
But in addition to loughs, streams, lakes, and rivers, Ireland is also home to stunning waterfalls. Some tiny falls are set in fairytale woodlands, while others cascade majestically down a mountainside. Ready to find your inner peace and reconnect with the Irish countryside? Here is where to see the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Ireland:
Torc Waterfall, Co. Kerry
Located just a few miles outside of the charming town of Killarney, Torc Waterfall is one of the first stops to make on any tour around the Ring of Kerry. The beautiful cascade is only a 5-minute walk from the roadside (there are lots of signs leading the way) and can be found at the bottom of Torc Mountain. The green setting is perfectly tranquil but the waterfall is popular and may be crowded at times. For more open space, head to nearby Killarney National Park and rent a bike to explore the quiet trails.
Glencar Waterfall, Co. Leitrim
Quiet County Leitrim is home the gorgeous 50-foot tall Glencar Waterfall. The cascade falls down the Dartry Mountains into Glencar Lough. It is a romantic setting any day, but the falls are most impressive after a good rain when the water rushes down the mountainside. The lovely spot is said to have inspired W.B. Yeats to write the poem "The Stolen Child," which includes the lines:
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star.
You can take in all the natural beauty yourself from the picnic area that looks out at the waterfall and also has a small playground for children. Then, keep exploring Leitrim with a trip out to Innisfree, the Irish island which became the setting for his most famous work.
Powerscourt Waterfall, Co. Wicklow
Falling in an unbroken cascade down the side of a mountain, the Powerscourt Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Ireland. The 398-foot cascade is known as a horsetail waterfall because of its free-flowing appearance and it can be visited at any time of year near the Powerscourt Estate. In fact, the estate owns the waterfall and the beautiful valley surrounded with woodlands where it can be found in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. The €6 entry fee is a small price to pay to experience the incredible natural setting, and also gives you access to the picnic facilities and playground near the base of the falls. It is the perfect stop after visiting the state Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, which lie about 4 miles away.
Glenoe Waterfall, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland)
Glenoe Falls looks like it might be based in a fairytale, but in reality, it can be found about a 2-minute walk from the main street in Glenoe Village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The small village set right on the edge of the beautiful glen where the 30-foot high Glenoe Waterfall is located. The path and footbridge at the foot of the falls have both been recently replaced so you can take a leisurely wander to the idyllic spot and take your time watching the water cascade through lush vegetation, ending at a bubbling brook filled with moss-covered rocks. The waterfall is short drive north of Belfast and lies just a few miles beyond Carrickfergus Castle.
Glenevin Waterfall, Co. Donegal
The scenery only gets prettier as you approach Glenevin Falls, which is named for the valley where it is found and is full of footbridges for crisscrossing the stream. Finding this waterfall near Clonmany in County Donegal requires a short but pleasant hike along a well-maintained and level trail. It is about a 30-minute walk from Glen House, where you can stop for tea before or after the hike. The 40-foot high waterfall pools in a small natural basin, known as Pohl-an-eas.
County Donegal is no stranger to natural beauty and has lots to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Be sure to take a detour to visit nearby Malin Head, the absolute northernmost point in all of Ireland.
Tourmakeady Waterfall, Co. Mayo
Tourmakeaday Falls is the main attraction along the lovely Tourmakeady Forest Park Walk. The less than 2-mile trail is appropriate for nature lovers of all ages, and winds through an enchanting woodland area in County Mayo. The falls are part of the Glensaul River, and the walk finishes at the highest point in the forest – overlooking the emerald landscape. The setting is truly romantic, and local legend suggests that Èamon de Valera, one of the central figures in the 1916 Easter Rising, once courted his wife here. The future rebel met her while he was teaching at the local school in Tourmakeady. The quaint village is nearby, or you can stop at O’Tooles Pub at the entrance to the forest park for drinks and food after your walk.
Assaranca Waterfall, Co. Donegal
Cascading majestically down a craggy mountainside, Assaranca falls is a beautiful stop when exploring the natural wonders in County Donegal. The falls are most impressive in winter when the higher rainfall tends to create a thundering torrent, but Assaranca is more than worth a short detour any day of the year. Once you have explored the area around the falls, head for the (admittedly more famous) Maghera caves close by. The natural grottos sit on a white sand beach also in Ardara.
Gleninchaquin Falls, Co. Kerry
One of the main attractions in Gleninchaquin Park, this waterfall is a popular stop for a day hike in County Kerry. The free-flowing falls runs down a rocky cliff, trailing in several streams depending on the recent rainfall. The area around the falls are well set up for picnics, and there are trails in the park that are suitable for all levels of fitness. Children will also love the sheep and livestock who roam nearby. The park and Gleninchaquin Falls are one of the best stops to make on a trip around the Beara Peninsula, but be sure to also explore the nearby white sand beach at Ballydonegan Bay, and wander through the enchanted fairy forest at Derreen Gardens.
Note: The privately owned park where Gleninchaquin Falls is located closes for the winter (usually from November to early March).
Aasleagh Falls, Co. Mayo
Found just over the border with County Galway, Aasleagh Falls is a lovely waterfall along the River Erriff in County Mayo. The falls are located a short drive from the village of Leenane, and only require a quick walk to reach from the parking spots along the R335. The easy-to-access falls are in a popular salmon fishing area, so be sure to bring your gear if you want to try your luck at catching anything nearby. Otherwise, hop back in the car to continue exploring the beautiful Killary Fjord, or turn back towards Galway to experience Connemara National Park. The stunning grounds of Kylemore Abbey are also a short drive away.
Glenariff Waterfalls, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland)
Glenariff Forest Park near Ballymena along the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland has so many small waterfalls that it has a special trail known as the Waterfall Walk. Follow the signs to wind through green glens, down a steep gorge, and past multiple gorgeous waterfalls. The 5-mile scenic trail is full of unique plant life, including rare ferns, which grow exceptionally well in the perpetually wet environment. The area is known as being one of the prettiest valleys in all of Northern Ireland and was even a filming location for "Game of Thrones."