‘Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand‘.
W. B. Yeats (excerpt from ‘The Stolen Child’).
Sometimes when I feel the need to escape, I take a drive to the Glencar mentioned in W.B. Yeats poem. It’s just north of Sligo town on the way to Manorhamilton.
Yeats often used references to Irish myths and legends in his early poetry; The Stolen Child’ was written in 1886 and is one of Yeats’ early poems.
Personally, I have always loved the poem. The full version tells of a human child beguiled away by the fairies. There is a line in the poem that reads ‘to the waters and the wild’ which has always captivated me. To me it represents an escape from the maddening crowded world I sometimes find myself in. The real Glencar offers no less an escape.
The Waterboys included the poem in their recording ‘The Stolen Child’ on their album ‘Fishermans Blues’. The words of the poem are spoken in it and it never fails to move me.
When you get there, Glencar is a pleasant, peaceful place.
As you park in the nearby car park you can look out across Glencar Lake towards the beauty that is Ben Bulben, and hear the roar of the waterfall in the background.
The path to the main waterfall crosses a little bridge, and there are a series of smaller waterfalls on the way the main one. The area is lightly wooded, but there are well maintained paths that you can follow.
As you walk along the path, you pass an old style lamp post which always reminds of Narnia; I often wondered if the path to that magical land lay behind the waterfall and if Aslan will one day roar at me as I walk past (who needs a wardrobe?)!
‘The ferns that drop their tears Over the young streams’ grow all around, especially at the main waterfall itself. They glisten gently from the spray of the waterfall.
Glencar is beautiful all year round. These photos were taken in February after there had been quite a lot of rain and the waterfall is always more impressive after sustained rainfall.
It is a place well worth a visit anytime you happen to be in the Sligo/Leitrim area, and you feel the need to escape to the waters and the wild.