Swimming Events Guide 2024
Waterfall walk

Swimming spot: O’Sullivan’s Cascade, Kerry, Ireland

The Salty Sisters share one their favourite places for a waterfall walk and dip, backdropped by lush forest in the southwest of Ireland

We are delighted to share one of our favourite Irish swim spots with you – a beautiful waterfall dip along a stunning forest walk in Co. Kerry.

O’ Sullivan’s Cascade is tucked between the lake edge of Lough Leane and Tomies Mountain in Killarney National Park.

A beautifully set waterfall amongst the trees of Tomies Wood fed by mountain run off – this spot really is hard to beat.

How to get to O’ Sullivan’s Cascade

The car park for Tomies Wood is located about 20 minutes from Killarney town. Spaces can fill up fast, especially in peak season, so arrive early to avoid congestion.

Google Maps address: Killarney Trail, Ballinlough, Co. Kerry, Ireland (52.0448958, -9.6033238).

Once parked, set off on your walk through the beautiful Tomies Woods. You have a choice between walking direct to O’Sullivan’s Cascade and back, or a looped walk. We recommend the looped walk to take in the breathtaking views.

To take the looped walk, keep right on your walk away from the car park. You’ll follow the road through the beautiful forest scene. Keep an eye out for red deer and squirrels, which are native to Ireland. You might even be lucky enough to spot one of the white-tailed eagles that have been reintroduced to the National Park.

Follow the looped road, taking in breathtaking views across Lough Leane towards the town of Killarney and surrounding mountain scenes until you see a sign for O’ Sullivan’s Cascade. From here you will begin your descent to the swim location.

Carefully follow the steps down the track through the forest. Be careful to watch underfoot as it can be slippy, especially after rain. The path will bring you down to the water’s edge and you will come around to your right to see the stunning waterfall.

Set your belongings on the right-hand side of the waterfall. Booties or water shoes would be good as it can be quite prickly underfoot from leaves and twigs. Climb carefully down the edge to enter the pool. Do not jump as the dark water could be hiding branches or rocks.

Relax and take in the beauty of what is surrounding you – the trees, river, lake and undoubtedly chilly but invigorating water.

Once you finish your dip, be sure to get changed quickly. The shaded forest can be quite chilly, even on a summer’s day, so pack a hot drink and layer up once you’re out of the water.

Head back up the steps to the main path and keep right again to step onto the home stretch back to the car park. The whole looped walk takes about 1.5 hours without stopping, so allow an extra 20 or 30 minutes for your dip.

Safety point: Enter with caution

The pool at the bottom of the cascade is fed with mountain run off. In times of heavy rain the water may be too fast flowing to enter. Heavy rainfall may also result in large branches or trees flowing down the river so use caution not to step on these or scratch yourself when entering.

Getting there

From Killarney town follow signs for Fossa. Once you’ve passed through Fossa village exit left for The Gap of Dunloe. After crossing the river you will come to a sharp right bend in the road. Here, turn left and follow this road until you reach the forest car park.

Join The Salty Sisters one of their guided swims: saltyseasisters.com

This article is from the December 2022 issue of Outdoor Swimmer. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Click here for more inspiration for wild places to swim.

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.