In flowing to the sea, rivers try to deepen their valleys to the same level as the sea. Old and mature rivers tend to have broad flat river beds while younger rivers are characterised by waterfalls and rapids. This being especially the case in the higher reaches of the rivers such as here in Tullydermot Falls on the Cladagh River.
Located on the Southern slopes of the Cuilcagh Mountains, the Tullydermot Falls lie close to the boundary between two of Ireland’s principal rivers, the Shannon and the Erne. The Shannon rises nearby at the ‘Shannon Pot’ and flows southwards to discharge into the Atlantic Ocean below Limerick City while the Erne flows northwards to meet the Atlantic at Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal. Both rivers pass through a number of large lakes on their way to the ocean and both are harnessed to provide hydro-electrical power near their mouths.
The Tullydermot Falls occur in the upper reaches of the Cladagh River, a tributary of the Erne and which flows eastwards from it’s rising in the Culcaigh Mountains towards Swanlinbar. The falls and rapids are caused by the action of the water on the underlying bedrock which consists of an interbedded sequence of hard sandstones and softer shales. The fast flowing river erodes the soft rock leading to the under cutting of the overlying hard rock.
Waterfalls are beautiful and natural places where the sound of cascading water and the luxuriant foliage combine to provide a most thoughtful setting. Such a setting inspired W.B. Yeats to write of his Glencar;
“Where the wandering water gushes
From the hill above Glencar,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them quiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.”