O'Sullivan's Cascade, Killarney

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter II-7 | Start of chapter

Leaving Innisfallen, I directed my boatmen to pull across to O'Sullivan's Cascade, which lies at the south side of the lake, and which is shown to strangers as one of the greatest beauties of Killarney. The shore here exhibits a sweep of wood so great in extent and so rich in foliage, that it is impossible not to be struck with its beauty. High overhead rise the magnificent Tomies; but while I was admiring the sublimity of the scene, the boat glided into a small bay, in the centre of which is a chasm in the wood: this is the bed of a considerable stream, which forms O'Sullivan's Cascade. I landed to the right of it, and walked under the thick shade of the wood, over a rugged declivity close to the torrent-stream, which breaks impetuously from rock to rock, with a roar that kindles expectation in the mind of a person visiting this scene for the first time. The picture I had formed in my fancy did not exceed the reality: on a sudden, I beheld rolling headlong from the mountain—

"Th' ungovernable torrent, loud and strong,

In thunder roaring as it dashed along;

Leaping with speed infuriate, wildly down,

Where rocks grotesque in massive grandeur frown.

With ocean strength it rushes on its way,

'Mid hoary clouds of everlasting spray;

To its rock-basin, with tremendous roar,

The brown hills trembling round the wizard shore.

The stream, which bursts from the deep bosom of a woody glen, throws itself over the face of a high perpendicular rock into a basin concealed from the spectator's view; from this basin it forces itself impetuously between two rocks into another reservoir: this second fall is of considerable height, but the third and lower one is the most striking in its appearance. Each of these basins being large, there appears a space of several yards between the three falls; and the whole being as it were embowered within a woody arch, the effect is exceedingly picturesque and beautiful.